Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wisconsin - Bratwurst and Blue Ribbon Chilli

A great site that I often use to find recipes from around the world is  I usually read what's there, see which ingredients I can get my hands on and improvise!

Wisconsin Bratwurst

The first Wisconsite dish I tried my hand at was Wisconsin Bratwurst.  Unfortunately, my local Waitrose doesn't stock Bratwurst, so I had to improvise and made Wisconsin Frankfurters!  Millions of Americans living in mid-West states such as Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota are descended from German immigrants - Milwaukee was nicknamed 'the German Athens', so it should come as no surprise that 'traditional' Wisconsite food includes the German speciality Bratwurst.  Some Wisconsites might also claim that the most famous of American foods, the Hamburger, was first fried in their humble state!

It felt like cheating this time round, as the concept of putting sausages, bread and chips (fries) together is nothing out of the ordinary (if you compare this to cooking Chakalaka or Togolese Ground nut soup!).  Having said that, I can't remember the last time I cooked 'regular' food.  We usually live on pasta or rice and don't tend to eat what is considered to be 'fast food'.

The Ingredients:

 4 large Frankfurters
4 bread rolls (the only ones I could find were Brioche rolls, which is a bit posh, so typical of Waitrose!)
100g butter
2 Baking potatoes (to make the chips/fries)
1 large onion
A can of American beer (unfortunately I couldn't get my hands on Miller, which is from Milwaukee, so I settled for Budweiser)

First I made the chips, by greasing some baking paper on an oven tray, peeling and chopping the potato into chips and blasting it at 220 degrees in the over for about 40 minutes.  A trick I use to keep the baking paper in place is to oil the baking tray first, then the paper sticks to it and doesn't move around.

Grease a tray and baking paper

Peel and chop the potatoes

Salt the chips and bake for 40 minutes

I always find it hard making chips from scratch and I wonder if that's why potato wedges were invented!  Anyway, they turned out okay and tasted lovely, even if they did stick to the paper a bit.  I must admit, I'd much rather bake the chips in the oven, than deep-fat fry them, which seems really unhealthy!

Whilst the chips were baking, I chopped up the onion and fried it over a fairly high heat, until it softened.  I added a smidgen of chilli powder to give the onions a wee 'kick'.  Once they'd softened, I put the frankfurters on top, having pierced their skins first, then covered the onions and sausage in beer, leaving them to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Fry the onion in butter

Add the frankfurters

Simmer in beer for about 20 minutes

After 20 minutes, I took the frankfurters out of the pan and popped them on my grill.  I set the onions to one side, keeping them warm. 

Grill the frankfurters

Finally, I sliced the brioche rolls, put the frankfurters inside and topped with onions and a side of chips (fries).  I also added HP sauce, to give the dish a distinctly British flavour!

Bratwurst with onions and fries

Wisconsin Blue Ribbon Chilli

It seems like most American states have their own version of Chilli.  What's really interesting about the way Wisconsinites make chilli is that they add macaroni, something I'd never thought of before, but is actually a really natural combination!



500g of Minced Beef
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper
1 celery stalk (or 2 if you like celery, my beloved partner isn't a big fan, so I keep it to the very minimum!)
Brown sugar
400g tin of Chopped tomatoes
300g of macaroni (I used Chifferi, which are like miniature elbows, but other kinds of macaroni would also work)
Tomato juice
Beef stock
Chilli powder

Normally I would fry my onion first before adding beef, but the recipe dictated otherwise and I thought I would follow the recipe to see what happened.  I can't say the end result was all that different, although I believe the beef gets the flavour of the onion, when the onion is fried first.

Fry the beef in olive oil

Add the chopped vegetables

Anyway, in keeping with the recipe I fried the beef until it had browned, then added the chopped onion, pepper and celery.  I then mixed in some chilli powder.  I never know how much chilli powder to put in and think I may have gone a little overboard this time round, as the dish was very spicy!  I guess a good rule of thumb is to add less, taste it when the sauce goes in and add more later, if it's too bland.

Add chilli, but not as much as this!

Add the chopped toms, brown sugar and tomato juice

After frying the vegetables and meat for about eight minutes, I added the chopped tomatoes and tomato juice.  Using tomato juice is another thing I'd never thought of before and it did give the sauce a lovely sweet taste, as Wisconsite chilli is meant to be quite sweet.  I also added the brown sugar, half a litre of beef stock and let the whole lot simmer for 20 minutes.

Once the ingredients had stewed a bit and the sauce had reduced, I added the macaroni and cooked on a medium heat for 15 minutes, adding water to top up the sauce, which was being quickly absorbed by the pasta.  Again, I probably went a bit overboard with the macaroni, as I added a whole 500g pack.  I would suggest less macaroni - depends on how many people you have to feed, I guess!

Add the macaroni

Wisconsin Blue Ribbon Chilli

The end result was incredibly tasty.  We decided to have it with bread, but, in retrospect, we didn't really need that.  I'm getting hungry again, just thinking about it!!

Image credits:

All photos were taken by me - please feel free to re-use them under the Creative Commons License, Attribution (especially to this blog), Share Alike, non-commercial.

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