Brats on the Grill

A variation on the Hot Brats in Sausage Season:

Fourth of July is coming soon, and if you have a bit of big game meat in your freezer, you have what you need to make your own hot brats on the grill.  This is a small recipe, a pound and a half, but if you want to double or triple it, go ahead. You’ll need to double or triple the baking soda and water along with the other ingredients, but there’s no need to increase the egg. One large egg will do for up to a 4½ pound batch. (I’ll be doing more testing on just how far that egg will stretch in the coming weeks, and will report back.)

Oh, and what’s perfect to serve these brats with? Potato salad.  Check out the two I posted on the blog last week.

Hot Brats On The Grill

Makes 1½ pounds

  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 12 ounces ground venison
  • 12 ounces ground pork fat or beef fat
  • 2 bay leaves, broken into
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher (or non-iodized) salt
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Add the cold water and baking soda to the mixing bowl.  Swish the two around until the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved.  Add the beaten egg and mix them together with a spoon.  Now add your sausage mix, and gently fold the liquids into the sausage mix with your hands, 10 to 20 seconds, just to start it getting mixed.**
  2. Now lock the bowl with the pouring shield in place, and start the mixer on your medium speed setting: on my Classic it’s 5 (out of a max 10).  Do hang on to your pouring shield; chunks of sausage will fly off and try to knock it off its perch.  If you don’t have a pouring shield, carefully cup your hands as a shield to prevent sausage from vaulting out of the bowl.  Just at first. The sausage starts getting pretty bonded/sticky pretty quickly. Please be very careful not to get your fingers caught in the mixer blade.
  3. Mix for 2 minutes on that medium speed setting, 5.  The sausage will be a bit looser than with the Paleo method I use in the first and second printings ofSausage Season, because there’s a bit more liquid*, but if you pick up a large ball of it and hold it upside down, it will not crumble or fall away. (Just like the paleo method.) The texture will be rather spongey, very different from the ground venison you started with. (Again, just like the paleo method in the book.) If you don’t have that bond yet, mix it a bit more.
  4. Now you can case it or cook it as patties. As with a lot of other things with home-made sausage it’s your choice.  This brat, however, is a great hot dog-like sausage and is wonderful with a bit of mustard and sweet relish in a hot dog bun.  (Scroll down for casing instructions.)

*Break a large egg in a measuring cup and it is ¼ cup of liquid.   If you use a small egg or extra large egg it would change the volume of liquids in your sausage, so only use large eggs.

** If this is the first time you’re making a particular sausage, it’s still a very good idea to taste test it in the microwave after you’ve added the spices to the meat/fat and thoroughly mixed them together by hand. But spices need a bit of time to develop and show off their true colors, so mix the sausage together with the liquids thoroughly in step one, then let the mix sit in the refrigerator overnight and taste test it again. When you’re happy, go on to step two.

 John and I both taste-test my sausage recipes numerous times, but then serve them to friends and family to make sure we’re not both tongue-dead.  The good thing is between John and I he likes things spicier than I do, and our friends and family vary in their preferences as well.    And unlike a certain California based lifestyle magazine, if the recipe doesn’t please, I don’t print it.

Your sausage mix has slept overnight in the fridge, you’ve taste-tested it, safely, again and now you’re ready to mix.  I use a Classic KitchenAid mixer, whose bowl tapers down at the bottom (narrower than the bottom of the more expensive model) and actually works better for small batches of sausage. For larger batches I use a Lem 20 pound Meat Mixer which works well on even 10 pound mixes.  Even though it’s a hand-crank, the timing is about the same as for the stand mixer.


Transfer the sausage mix to the caser.  The casings should be loaded already.

  1. Put a few drops of oil in a shallow bowl or plate under the stuffing tube to catch the sausage.  (If you’re making more than 1½ pounds of sausage, something larger–like a roasting pan–will serve better.)
  2. Now start your sausage stuffer. As the meat enters the tube, pull the front end of the casing out about 3 or 4 inches, enough to make a knot with wet hands.  Stop the machine after you have an inch or so in the casing, press the air bubbles out, and tie off the end

Start up the machine again, holding the casing on the tube to control the speed it comes off, and let the sausage fill the casing–like a balloon–without bursting.

  1. Twist off lengths of sausage.  Eight inches is a good length for hot dogs, depending on the length of your roll.
  2. When the sausage stops coming out of the tube, pull another 3-4 inches of casing off the tube, snug it up against the last of the sausage, twist and then tie a knot in the hog casing.

Set the sausage on cookie cooling racks, double check your twists then chill overnight in the fridge.  The next day, snip the sausages apart at the twist, and freeze or chill until you’re ready to cook them.

To cook

  • Grill at about 300⁰F (between medium and low) until a meat thermometer reads 165-170⁰F.
  • Gentle is the word. Cook them too hot or too long and your sausage ill burst and lose a lot of its moisture.
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