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June 27, 2007 / Tony

Brats and Caesar Salad

Dinner on Monday was a simple affair.  Wild rice and cheddar bratwurst with beer-braised onions and a fresh Caesar salad.  As you will read, the brats were a mixed success and the Caesar salad was a success.

I bought the brats from Meats by John and Wayne, a local butcher shop located on 45th Street s South (for those of you familiar with Fargo).  I bought the Wild rice and cheddar brats because they seemed the most adventurous.  For preparation, I braised them in O ‘Douls and julienne Vidalia onions.  I, obviously, would have used real beer but I felt the need to use the O ‘Douls somehow (like I would even think about drinking it) and this seemed to be a pretty innocuous way of doing it.  I brought the mixture to a boil and then simmered for about 15 minutes.  I really don’t know how long it took exactly.  I just start the mixture on the stove and then start my charcoal grill.  When the grill is lit, the brats are ready for the grill.  I use this method because it imparts a little bit of beer flavor and is a gentler way of cooking the brats.  Unless you have a pretty low fire, it is pretty easy to scorch brats before they are all the way cooked inside.  I added onions to the mixture as an experiment.  I wanted to see if the onions would add any flavor to the brats (they didn’t) and if they would be good on the brats afterwards (they weren’t).  Much better would be to used sautéed onions that have been caramelized slightly.  The onions would be so much more flavorful. 

The brats, apart from my cooking of them, were delicious.  The cheddar taste was pleasantly strong and the wild rice, while very subtle, added a starchy heartiness not present in all-meat brats.  They were well-seasoned and cooked beautifully.  I will have to give their other varieties a try this summer.

The salad was very good.  I made this dressing:

Caesar Salad Dressing, from The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook

4 flat anchovy fillets, or to taste, rinsed and drained

4 garlic cloves

2 tsp sherry vinegar

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp dry mustard

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Using your chef’s knife, coarsely chop the anchovies and garlic.  Then, mush them together with the knife with a scraping motion of your knife against the cutting board.  Add the vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.  Whisk to combine.  Then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream to create an emulsion. 

This is a nice take on Caesar dressing.  The product is light (no egg) but flavorful.  The anchovies add a wonderful brininess, the garlic and dry mustard give sharpness and pungency, and the Worcestershire sauce gives the dressing a nice depth of flavor.  Add it to a mixture of chopped Romaine lettuce, nice croutons, and high-quality Parmesan cheese and you’ve got a great salad, which is just what I did. 

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