Grilled Bratwurst with Onions and Peppers

On the surface, few things sound easier than grilling up a few bratwurst—all you need is bratwurst and fire. Throw some onions and peppers into the mix, and you’ve got an easy dinner for two. But we know from experience that nicely grilled bratwurst with juicy interiors can be an elusive goal. Fatty sausages drip grease onto the coals, causing flare-ups that can quickly turn the exterior into carbon while the inside remains barely cooked. The onions often wind up mostly raw with a few charred spots. We sought a foolproof grilling method that would cook the bratwurst to perfection, and we hoped to offer sweet peppers and caramelized onions as part of the bargain. While we prefer bratwurst, this recipe will work with any raw, uncooked sausage.–The Editors of America’s Test Kitchen

LC Brat Buns Note

Some of us—okay, one of us—grew up on a farm in Iowa happily and wholeheartedly tucking into grilled brats at least severe times each summer. Thing is, with all respect to the sleuths at America’s Test Kitchen, the grilling of the brats, which, yes, may be slightly tricky, is only half the sandwich. Why go to all that precision and bother only to plonk it all on a soft, squishy, nondescript hot dog bun?! The horror! The thought—sacrilege—actually never occurred to us. We either sought out bratwurst buns, which were larger, sturdier, more robustly flavored buns, from a local German bakery or we did without. We suggest you do the same. Or at the very least, seek out a hoagie roll or perhaps even a demi baguette. It takes a bun of substance to stand up to bratwurst. Words to live by.

Special Equipment: 1 (8-inch square) disposable aluminum roasting pan

Grilled Bratwurst with Onions and Peppers Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • 1 pound bratwurst (about 2 links)
  • 2 bratwurst buns or hoagie rolls or hot dog buns, split and toasted (see LC Brat Buns Note above)

Directions

  • 1. Combine the onion, salt, and pepper in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the onion begins to soften and turn translucent at the edges, 3 to 6 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking (and being careful of the steam that releases when you uncover the bowl). Transfer the onion, along with the bell peppers, to a disposable aluminum baking pan. Place the sausages on the vegetables and cover the pan tightly with foil.
  • 2. If using a charcoal grill: Open the bottom grill vents completely. Light a large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (100 briquettes; 6 quarts). When the coals are hot, pour them in an even layer over the grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover, and open the lid vents completely. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

    If using a gas grill: Turn all the burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. (Adjust the burners as needed to maintain a hot fire.)
  • 3. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Place the disposable pan in the center of the grill, cover the grill, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • 4. Slide the pan to one side of the grill and carefully remove the foil. Transfer the sausages and peppers directly to the cooking grate and cook (covered if using gas) until the sausages are well browned on all sides and the peppers are spottily charred, turning them as needed, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a platter and tent loosely with foil. Transfer the peppers to a carving board and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Cover the grill and continue to cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown and the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
  • 5. Return the sliced peppers to the pan with the onion and toss to combine. Serve the sausages in buns and top with the bell peppers and onion.

Variations

  • Grilled Bratwurst with Onion and Fennel
  • Follow the recipe for Grilled Bratwurst with Onion and Peppers, omitting the bell peppers and adding 1 fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced, to the bowl with the onion before microwaving in step 1.
  • Grilled Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Apples
  • Follow the recipe for Grilled Bratwurst with Onion and Peppers, omitting the onion and bell peppers. Combine 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater, 1 cup drained sauerkraut, and 1/8 teaspoon dried sage in the disposable aluminum pan (do not microwave). Place the sausages in a single layer on top of the sauerkraut mixture and cook as directed in step 4. Omit step 5 and, after the sausages are browned, serve them with the sauerkraut mixture.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Brenda Carleton

Jul 20, 2009

So few ingredients involved, but the outcome was very tasty. Partially cooking the onions in the microwave first was something I have done before, but not with sausages. Then the onions are layered with red peppers, topped with the raw sausages and covered tightly with foil and placed on the grill. The sausages essentially steam and become infused with the onion-pepper mixture. The sausages are direct-grilled until done, then served with the onions and peppers. The steaming really kept the sausages moist and juicy, and the resultant onions/peppers were both slightly charred and tasted of the sausage. This intriguing technique is highly recommended — we will certainly do it again.


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