Even though this post is about Bratwurst, it would be silly not to ask where sausage making began – and when, so lets start with where the first sausages came from. Apparently sausages were made by the Sumerians (today known as Iraq) some time on or before 3,000 BC. Since so many manuscripts mention sausage making thousands of years before this date is not cast in stone. The Chinese made lachang from goat and lamb around 590 BC and Homer wrote about a type of blood sausage in the Odyssey. Epicharmus, also Greek, mentioned sausages in his comedy, The Sausage which was written between 550 and 450 BC. During the Roman era, notably the time of Nero, sausages were made for the Lupercalia festival but they also made circelli, tomacinae and butuli – delicious sausages commonly eaten during festivals, parties and sacrifices – all three occasions being much the same thing to the Romans of those days. When the Catholic Church banned some of the Roman festivals it became a sin to eat sausages with the result that Constantine banned the eating of them as well. Leo VI, the Wise, outlawed the production of blood sausage because of the massive food poisoning outbreak. Early Christians banned it in Rome for many years, but I am not clear whether they banned the blood sausage or all sausages.
The word bratwurst comes from the Old German (or High German) word braetwurst. Braet refers to finely chopped meat and wurst is sausage. Contrary to common opinion It does not mean to fry or barbecue. I believe original bratwurst was the one from Thueringen in the central part of Germany and made from veal and pork, known the Thueringer Rostbratwurst and my favourite. The oldest available recipe, found in 2,000 by Hubert Erzmann in the City of Weimar archives, dates it back to 1432. You soak them in milk for a while, barbecue and serve three abreast on a roll because the sausages are so thin. The casings are made from natural intestines or sometimes collagen nowadays. Be that as it may, the most popular bratwurst today in Germany is the marjoram flavoured Nuernberger Rostbratwuerste about as thick as a man’s thumb. They are protected under the EU law with a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status which makes it all the more special. There is the bratwurst from Franken – long and thin and served, two on a roll. The Swiss, not be outdone, provide a very important bratwurst on this culinary table and produce the Olma bratwurts in St Gallen. Made from Swiss veal, pork, milk, milk products and spices. The other, equally famous, bratwurst types Coburger (famous at the German festivals and served in a multitude of delicious ways) and the Kulmbacher (longer than the Nuernberger cousins) are also mouthwateringly delicious. A trip to Germany for festivals and bratwurst tasting seems like an excellent idea to me! Visit the Oktoberfest at the end of September to early October, the Weinachtsmarkt’s at Christmas and the multitude of Sommerfests where these delicious sausages will undoubtedly prevail.
Below a recipe for Thueringer Bratwurst and and a delicious, albeit filling meal called “Stolzer Heinrich”. Proud Heinrich’s – and I dedicate this to my godson, Heinrich
5 – 6 metres lambs intestines, 1 kg pork belly and one of veal shoulder, 2 eggs and one and a half teaspoons of ground white pepper, about half a teaspoon each of nutmeg, coriander, caraway seeds and about 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh marjoram. Salt to taste even though you are not supposed to – I think just a sprinkling. Add the juice of one lemon and the peel of two. Wash the intestines well in lukewarm water and allow to rest in the water for about 20 minutes. Cut the meat into blocks and mince only once through a sausage mincer. Once minced add the spices, herbs, lemon juice and rind and mix very well with the eggs. It should make about 20 x 20cm sausages.
8 sausages, 250 ml meat stock, 250 ml light beer, one tablespoon capers and one vinegar, two tablespoons each of butter and flour and then salt, pepper and a bayleaf as well the juice and peel of a lemon – and horrors, a teaspoon of brown sugar for me, otherwise they are just too sour. 🙂 Fry the sausages in the butter, take out, drain and put to one side. Stir flour into remaining butter until golden, add the stock and the beer slowly, stirring constantly. Now the spices, juice and rind go in and you make a thickish sauce from it. Cook for about 12 minutes over a low heat, turn the heat up slightly, add the sausages for about five minutes and serve. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
It’s delicious with rye bread, fresh carrot salad and a green cucumber and mint salad.
Serve with a light beer of your choice