Monday, June 7, 2010

Seared Bratwurst w/ Chianti Sauce & Caramelized Shallots

It's almost summertime and that means barbeque. I don't have a grill, so this recipe will be done indoors. If you're fortunate enough to have a grill, just fire up the bratwursts and follow all of the other recipe instructions. This is a great sauce for all cuts of meat, but I especially recommend it on pork. The acidity of the Chianti is smoothed out by brown sugar and melted butter. The fresh sage is the secret to this dish. Acid, sage, and pork are quite possibly the best trio I've discovered so far this year. Try this dish with a light, fruity red wine or summery wheat beer.

1 lb. Pork Sausages (Bratwurst!)
8 Tbsp. Butter, chilled and diced
3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Fresh Thyme Sprigs
2 C. Chianti
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

With good cuts of meat, you want to cook them when they're at room temperature. A steak will always cook better when grilled at room temperature vs. straight out of the refrigerator. You want the bratwursts to baste in their own fat, so DO NOT prick them with a fork.

Once cooked, the fat from within the sausages will begin leaking out when you slice the meat. This fat is pure flavor! If you prick the sausages, all this flavor will leak out during cooking. Grill the sausages until done, if you have the equipment and set aside to rest.

If you're like me, and don't have a grill, sear the bratwursts on medium heat on one side, then flip the brats and place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes. I love to cook my bratwurst in a cast iron skillet. Once I remove the sausage, I pour the pan drippings and pork-infused oil into a jar to use in other dishes later. These sausages release a lot of "liquid flavor". I recommend you save as much as you can. If you sear the sausages on a heat above medium or roast them in the oven above 350, you'll have wonderful sausages, but the pan drippings will burn. This is why I recommend cooking them on a lower temperature once they've been seared.

While the sausages are searing, melt about 2 tablespoons of the butter in a pan, then add the shallots, garlic, and thyme. Cook over medium high heat to caramelize the shallots, then add the wine and brown sugar and bring to a steady boil. Stir the liquid to thoroughly dissolve the sugar. Boil until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard.

Remove the sauce for the heat and whisk in the dijon mustard and the cold butter, a few pieces at a time. Do not add all the butter at once or the sauce will break. Finish the sauce with the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to serve this dish over herb-whipped mash.

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