the mysteries of bratwursts
January 8, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe

We have some raw bratwursts from a local co-op. They look good but the casing looks kind of papery; the best I can describe is like thin reddish-colored newspaper; it tears like paper, but it's on the sausages tight. Do any bratwurst experts know what this might be? Does this have to be removed, and if so, at what stage?
posted by crapmatic to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
 
It sounds like it is just the casing that typically stays on. The classic Wisconsin way to cook them would be to simmer in beer for 15 minutes or so then put them on the grill.
posted by sulaine at 6:16 PM on January 8, 2011


Update: I think these are "cellulose" casings... I did a ton of web searches and amazingly find nothing at all about how to cook with them except this, which suggests "To grill or fry cellulose-cased sausages remove the casings after the poaching/cooling process". I'm simmering in beer right now with them on, but I've been wondering what to do when they go in the oven broiler -- like them coming out with burned paper all over them.
posted by crapmatic at 6:21 PM on January 8, 2011


It sounds like the casing on this.
posted by mollweide at 6:37 PM on January 8, 2011


Er, this. I buy it more often than I should. If I'm using it in soups or stews, I peel the casing off before I cook it. However, it is pre-cooked, which may make the casing easier to remove. If I'm eating it whole, I usually just leave the casing on, which doesn't seem to suffer from close-to-the-burner action in the toaster oven. If you want to remove the casing after simmering, I suggest making a shallow slit down the sausage and peeling the casing back from the slit. My totally anecdotal evidence suggests it's easier to the peel the casing down the length of the sausage rather than just perpendicular to the slit.
posted by mollweide at 6:43 PM on January 8, 2011


Well, I went ahead and put it in the oven, casing and all. The cellulose (or at least I think it's that) was originally kind of papery and loose at the tips, but seemed to firm up nicely during the cooking process... it didn't burn in the broiler, and actually seemed to turn into "normal" sausage with no residue. I guess this confirms what you posted, mw -- thanks! Thanks sulaine too.
posted by crapmatic at 7:17 PM on January 8, 2011


I'm going to guess that they were collagenous casings. They're commonly used instead of natural casings for various reasons. When dry, they have a stiff, crinkly texture, sort of similar to newspaper. Thick cellophane also comes to mind. When cooked, collagenous casings become tender like the natural ones. You have to be careful not to cook them too long though (hours, like in a soup), or they'll split and come off the sausage.

Cellulose casings
on the other hand are the thick, papery casings you see on summer sausage. Generally you'll only ever see them on smoked sausages. They're considered inedible, so they should be removed before serving.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:37 AM on January 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmm... well, deciding between whether it was collagen or cellulose, this casing had more of the consistency of paper than plastic, so I don't know what it was. There were no warnings on the packaging about "unwrapping before serving" so I ate it all... 15 hours later I feel perfectly fine, no regrets, whatever it was. I'll call the manufacturer Monday... if anyone is curious, let me know and I'll report back.
posted by crapmatic at 9:22 AM on January 9, 2011


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