Sunday, January 10, 2016

A little Sous-Vide action...Beer Brats!

We just got back from an AMAZING honeymoon in beautiful, sunny, warm, fabulous Mexico.

We're such goons.

Unfortunately for us, we returned to Minnesota just in time to catch the beginning of a fun-filled polar vortex. 


As I'm coming down from my warm-weather high, I found myself craving one last taste of summer. I needed something fresh. I needed something savory. I needed something that would tide me over until I could either escape back to Mexico or drag out the grill in June. 

I also needed to sous-vide something for my 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge. 

Beer brats. I needed to beer brats. 

(I also needed to pack it all into a Bento Box style for my 'metatheme' weekly challenge)

Here's the deal- I love a good brat. What I can't abide, however, is a brat that is charred to the point of exhaustion. This is why I love beer brats: I get to avoid the char! However, I sometimes find that beer brats, left to simmer away in a bath of beer, can turn out over-cooked and under-whelming. 

Sous-vide brats are truly a revelation. By maintaining temperature, the brats cook evenly and perfectly. Add in some caramelized onions and beer to the cooking bag (along with a divine roasted pepper salad) and you've got a brat that's thoroughly infused with all the flavors of a summer grill out. I absolutely adore this method and will go so far as to say THIS is how I will cook my brats forever, no matter the time of year. 

If you're craving a taste of summer, get yourself some brats and get going on this recipe!

First, we're going to caramelize some onions. Begin by melting some butter in a pan on medium heat. 2 tablespoons should do the trick. When your butter begins to bubble, add in 1 thinly sliced red onion, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and a good pinch of salt. Cook the onions for 15-20 minutes, until they deepen in color and are thoroughly softened. Add in 12 ounces of your favorite pale ale and bring to a steady simmer. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In the meantime, you'll want to heat up a pot of water to 140 degrees F. It's essential to maintain the temperature at 140 for the duration of the cook time, so be sure to have a reliable thermometer handy. 

Divide the onion/beer mixture between to gallon freezer bags (or 2 vacuum seal bags) and add in 3 brats to each bag. Flatten the bags and remove the air from the bag using the water submersion technique or a vacuum sealer. Be sure the brats aren't overlapping each other.

Add to the pot and be sure to watch the temperature. If it begins to drop, you'll want to turn up the heat in order to maintain 140. Use a pot or other item to help submerge the bags completely. Cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour, brats can be held at temperature for several hours.

Or we can eat them right away! Remove the bags from the water bath and all to rest slightly while you heat up a skillet on high with some butter. Sear off the brats for just a minute or two (they're already fully cooked), or until they begin to split open. 

Beautiful. Juicy. And thoroughly delicious served with the caramelized onions and some mustard. 

If you want to go a step further, though...

Char up a red, green and yellow bell pepper over an open flame or under the broiler. You'll want to char until nearly all the skin is blackened. 

Lovely! Remove to a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Rest for 20 minutes, then use your hands to peel off the charred skin. Remove the inner membranes and slice the peppers into thin strips. 

In a small bowl, combine 6 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary (1 TB if using fresh), 2 cloves finely minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and salt/pepper to taste. Whisk well and add the mixture to the pepper slices. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Absolutely delicious on a brat!

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