Maybe 15 years or so ago, Larry and I helped my folks with one of their wild parties. On the menu: Beer Basted Bratwurst. My parents have a “gang;” their decades-long connection is St. John Fisher grammar school, all the gang’s assorted kids started there. We lived on The Peninsula (they still do), a horsey, remote enclave south of LA, atop a hill. You only went “down the hill” to get something you couldn’t get “on the hill.” That means, like any small town, everyone knew everyone else. Scoring a spot in my folks’ gang thus required the SFJ Catholic connection.
Last weekend, we were invited to an Octoberfest dinner by friends Frank and Val. We had the brat assignment. Brats from Wisconsin are darn tasty (it’s a small pork sausage). Octoberfest means a lot to Wisconsonians, including my dad. Beer… need I say more? Ray Mathys’ signature recipe is beer basted bratwurst. Back to that party long ago, Larry was involved in the brats and grilled about a hundred that day. Those of you who know my dad know he’s good at getting other people to do work for him. Quite the Huck Finn, which lead Larry to hone beer basting bratwurst grilling skills.
Here are my dad’s instructions via email. He is only 86 years old and wouldn’t share a computer with my mom, so they both have their own. Emails with recipes from my dad are the best.
Beer Basted Bratwurst by Ray Mathys
“The brats are available at Ralphs or Vons. Johnsonvile brats from Sheboygan or near there. Stack them in a pot like cord wood and cover with cheap beer. Chop up a good size onion. Bring the beer to a 1 or 2 minute boil ( blanch ) and turn off fire. dip out a half a sauce pan of the beer and add about 3 or 4 table spoons of brown sugar. This is for basting to get them golden brown. Take the pot of blanched brats and the sauce pan of beer with the brown sugar in it out to the grill and start BBQing them over a moderate flame, Using some long tongs, keep dipping the brats in the sauce pan to keep them moist and to build up a golden brown crust. at this point, they should be ready to eat. I forgot to mention that you poke them full of holes with a sharp fork before stacking them in the pot to let the juice soak into the brats. They should melt in your mouth. Best served with German potato salad and Bush beans plus any other good stuff. No Packer game would be with out it.”