Wisconsinites simply call them brats, but what is the big deal?
Born in Germany, brought to America with the German immigrants, the bratwurst is more than just a sausage. In Wisconsin, they are never actually called bratwurst, although they certainly understand you if you call them that. In Wisconsin, they are just “brats” and they are everywhere in the badger state.
No cookout, or backyard barbecue is complete without them. They are a tailgating staple whether for the Brewers, Bucks, Badgers or, Packers. In the summer, nearly every grocery store sells brats for fundraisers to hungry shoppers. It is not uncommon to see them grilled outside year round, regardless of the weather.
What makes a brat a brat? This is a bit more difficult to define. Brats are large mildly flavored sausages, usually eaten on a bun. They are topped with ketchup and mustard and often with sauerkraut. There are many name brands, some of them national, such as Usinger’s, Klemmet’s, Johnsonville among others. There are also many store brands and small batch offerings. The original brats have a mild flavor with perhaps a hint of nutmeg, but even these, vary quite a bit from brand to brand. So to complicate things further, there are many specialty flavors available. Jalapeno, Cajun, cheese, mushroom, and even pizza, just to name a few. Beer brats are often available, which I have always found a bit strange, since arguably the most popular preparation method involves par-boiling them in beer prior to slapping them on the grill. There are, of course, several methods, most of which are jealously defended, potentially igniting spirited debate (probably over a beer or two in the back yard).
So we are not exactly closer to a definition, but come to Wisconsin and try them. I’m sure someone will be happy to point you in the right direction.