Paul Fehribach, Chef & Author

Big Jones

5347 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL

Publication of Midwestern Food: A Chef’s Guide to the Surprising History of a Great American Cuisine, with More Than 100 Tasty Recipes

University of Chicago Press

Published: September 2023

Book Info:


Beer Brats (the Real Way)

For 8 brats                                                                                                         97

A 10- or 12-inch, well-seasoned, heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet 2 tablespoons coffee-can grease, lard, or vegetable oil

8 best bratwurst (pork or pork and beef, chopped, not emulsified), about 4 ounces each

Two 12-ounce lager beers, ice-cold (Miller High Life is classic, but German lagers such as Weihenstephaner or Dortmunder are fantastic. OK, truly only one of the beers needs to be ice-cold; that’s for drinking while you use the other one to cook the brats.)

Generously oil the bottom and sides of the skillet with your fat of choice. Evenly distribute the bratwurst over the bottom of the pan and pour one 12-ounce beer over them. Turn the heat up to medium high, bring the beer to a boil, then turn down the heat to maintain a low boil, turning the brats at least every minute or two. Even cooking is key to avoiding splits, cracks, or popped casings on your sausages. Eventually, the brats will begin sizzling in their own drippings and the syrupy leavings of the beer. Turn them even more often, every 30 to 45 seconds, to coat them well in the beer syrup and get a full char on them. This entire process will take about 15 minutes. Handle them gently and let them cool for 8 to 10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy as the center of

a plate with potatoes or dumplings and kraut, or on buns dressed with kraut and spicy brown mustard.


Serves 4 to 6

1 ½ pounds fingerling or small “C-size” red or Yukon Gold potatoes 4 strips smoked bacon, 18/22 count cut

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup Spanish onion, finely diced

1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fine mayonnaise, Hellman’s or Duke’s

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

¼ cup green onion, very thinly sliced

Cook the potatoes in their skins in unsalted water at a high simmer until easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool in their cooking water until they are still warm but easy to handle. Drain and cut into bite-sized chunks to your taste, up to 1 inch square; a little smaller is best.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven, cook the bacon strips over medium to medium-high heat until nicely browned and crisped all the way through. Remove and drain on a clean paper or cloth towel. Chop finely, ½ inch or smaller.

Add the flour to the bacon drippings in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the floury smell is cooked out and it smells toasty, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir constantly until thoroughly sweated and soft but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and vinegar and bring to a boil for 15 seconds to thicken. Remove from heat, add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Add the mayonnaise and black pepper and toss to combine thoroughly. Taste for seasoning and add salt ½ teaspoon at a time, incorporating thoroughly after each addition and tasting before adding more. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl, top with the green onions, and send to the table.