AskDefine | Define bratwurst

Dictionary Definition

bratwurst n : a small pork sausage [syn: brat]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Bratwurst



From German Bratwurst


  1. A small pork sausage, usually served fried.
    Yesterday there was bratwurst for dinner.

Extensive Definition

A bratwurst (pronounced: ) is a sausage composed of pork, beef, and/or veal. The name is German, derived from Old High German brätwurst, from brät- which is fine chopped meat and -wurst, sausage. Though the brat in bratwurst describes the way the sausages are made, it is often misconstrued to be derived from the German verb "braten", which means to pan fry or roast. Etymology aside, frying and roasting are far from the most common methods of preparation. Bratwurst is usually grilled and sometimes cooked in broth or beer.


The original probably comes from the region of Thuringia, where it is traditionally known as Thüringer Rostbratwurst. The oldest known recipe is from 1432.. Documents discovered in 2000 in the Weimar city archives by Hubert Erzmann, an amateur historian, codify the law regarding production of Thuringian Rostbratwurst. These laws would make bratwurst one of the world's first regulated foods.
In Germany, there are also other regional variations. In Nuremberg, the bratwurst are considerably smaller, approximately the length and thickness of an adult's thumb. Perhaps the most popular sausage in Germany, Nürnberger Bratwürste / Nürnberger Rostbratwürste is also protected under EU law with PGI status. Traditionally soaked in milk, roasted, and served three abreast on a bun with mustard, this pork-based wurst is recognized in markets and restaurants across Germany, and prepared according to taste (broiled, smoked, grilled, etc.). Fresh marjoram is often attributed to be one of the important flavors in this distinctive sausage.
In the Franconia region, the bratwurst are long and thin, often served in pairs.
The OLMA bratwurst is a PGI-protected specialty of St. Gallen, Switzerland. It is produced from Swiss veal, pork (no more than 20%), milk and milk products, and spices.

Eating practices and traditions


How the sausage is served can vary according to the region. In Thuringia, the sausage is often eaten with a hot or sweet German mustard, with ketchup and a bread roll, or sliced and eaten as Currywurst. Further south, the bratwurst are often served "pinched" in a bread roll, much like a forerunner of the American hot dog bun. It is a very popular form of "fast food" in German-speaking countries, cooked and sold from small stands and street vendors. Recipes for the sausage can also vary; some sources list over forty different varieties of German bratwurst.
The "Wurstkuchl" in Regensburg, Germany is the oldest bratwurst-restaurant still in existence. It was established shortly after 1146 and has been serving Bratwurst to dock workers. Today it mostly serves as a tourist attraction but still roasts bratwurst the traditional way.
A giant wurst-and-bun statue can be found at the main intersection of Holzhausen, the location of the German Bratwurst Museum (Deutsches Bratwurstmuseum). The museum, run by the Friends of Thuringian Bratwurst, opened in 2006 and is devoted only to the Thuringian sausage.
The oldest Document in the Museum mentions the bratwurst first time in 1404 in Thuringia. In 1410 followed the County of Katzenelnbogen. They will celebrate 600 Years of katzenelnbogen Bratwurst in 2010.

United States

In the United States, bratwurst (colloquially known as "brats" -- rhymes with "scots") are usually eaten on a hot dog bun, brat bun or a hardroll, topped with mustard and/or many of the other condiments often eaten with hot dogs. These may include ketchup, onions (grilled or raw), sauerkraut, pickle relish, shredded cheese, mayonnaise, and others. The bratwurst is occasionally served as a pair of links nestled in a buttered hardroll with these same toppings; this is called a 'double brat'.
Within the US, bratwurst, while not strictly a regional cuisine, is strongly identified with areas of the US where German and other Northern European immigrants settled in large numbers, like Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is informally known as the "Bratwurst Capital of America". The city celebrates "Sheboygan Bratwurst Days", a community festival held on the first Thursday through Saturday of August each year. Bratwurst is especially popular in a region stretching from Chicago, Illinois up through Wisconsin into Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin is also a center of bratwurst appreciation. Johnsonville Foods, the nation's largest bratwurst maker, is based in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Other traditional Wisconsin brat manufacturers include Klement's Sausage Company and Usinger's, both of which are based in Milwaukee.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin, holds an annual festival billed as the "World's Largest Brat Fest". The four-day charity event sees tens of thousands of brats sold by "celebrity" cashiers, usually local television, radio, and government personalities. Brat Fest's self-proclaimed world record is 191,712 brats consumed during the 2008 event. Throughout Wisconsin, the "brat fry" is a popular fundraising technique; brats are grilled outdoors and sold for the benefit of a charity organization.
Another town with German-American roots is Bucyrus, Ohio, which is known for its unique recipe incorporating caraway seed. It holds a bratwurst festival annually in mid-August attracting over 100,000 visitors annually. A Bucyrus-style bratwurst is served split on a rye bun with sauerkraut, mustard, and chopped white onions.
The Bratwurst was popularized as a mainstay of sports stadiums after Bill Sperling introduced brats to major league baseball in Milwaukee County Stadium in 1953. The brats were such a hit, Sperling said, that Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers took a case back to New York, and the rest is history.
The type of bratwurst most commonly found in the United States are the larger variety (as opposed to the smaller "Nuremberg-style" bratwurst), approximately 1 inch in diameter, reddish-brown in color, and made of some combination of beef and pork and is sometimes smoked. Bratwurst made exclusively with chicken or turkey, and even vegetarian versions, are increasingly found in American grocery stores.


See also

bratwurst in German: Bratwurst
bratwurst in Spanish: Bratwurst
bratwurst in Dutch: Braadworst
bratwurst in Portuguese: Bratwurst
bratwurst in Simple English: Bratwurst
bratwurst in Swedish: Bratwurst
bratwurst in Chinese: 德國碎肉香腸
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