Bratwurst is a German sausage made of beef or pork. The name Bratwurst comes from the Old High German word brätwurst: brät meaning finely chopped meat and wurst which literally means sausage. The brat in bratwurst is often misconstrued to be from the German verb braten, which means to roast or pan fry something. Bratwurst are usually grilled or cooked in beer or broth. But if I can't grill it, I prefer to pan fry it.
In Germany, bratwurst are served on a bun when ordered from a street vendor or served with sauerkraut and potatoes when ordered at a restaurant. Bratwurst on a brötchen, or "hard roll," is served with mustard. You won't find ketchup unless you order curry-wurst, which is sliced wurst served with a curried tomato ketchup. Both wursts are very popular German fast food and can be found on most streets of busy German towns.
1. American brats got their start in Wisconsin. In the beginning, every butcher had their own bratwurst and the people would get the one they liked. Well, one butcher from Wisconsin definitely beat out the competition. The Johnsonville brat is kind of what I expect brats to taste like. I ate a brat in Argentina a couple years ago, and it tasted just like a Johnsonville brat, which apparently is based on an old Austrian family recipe. Johnsonville has many recipes now, but I still like original flavor best.
2. Heat up a frying pan on medium heat and put the brats in. I start off with a dry pan and then add just a little oil or butter, about 1 Tbsp. The brats have a lot of fat inside, so you won't need much. As I mentioned before, I prefer the flavor of plain or "original" bratwurst. There are many companies that make bratwurst now. Many butcher shops still make an in-house brand of bratwurst. You may end up preferring it.
3. Rotate the brats in the pan as the sides brown. I cover my brats as they fry in the pan. And I cook each of the "four" sides for about 4‒5 minutes. The brats cook faster when they are covered because when you cover the pan, you are generating steam. This wet heat is cooking the other three sides while the side down is frying.
4. Check the internal temperature of the brats. Once the brat is browned all the way around, check to see of it is cooked all the way through. The best way to do this is to use a digital thermometer and check the core temperature. It should be 160‒165ºF, although Johnsonville recommends a temp of 180ºF. That seems excessive to me; of course they are probably just covering their asses.
Do not poke the bratwurst; it will leak out its juices, and it could potentially cause melted fat to shoot you in the eye.
Let the bratwurst rest for two minutes after cooking it and before eating it.
Careful. Contents may be under great pressure and may also be scalding hot. Eat with care.
If you find a fresh, local bratwurst, give it a try. You can always find Johnsonville.
If the bratwurst are still undercooked but you can't fry them anymore, put the pan into a 350ºF oven for 15 minutes. That should finish them off.
Fresh baguette work great as buns.