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Bratwurst Pretzel Roll with Sauerkraut & Tarragon Mustard

Matt Hinckley / June 3rd, 2013

Executive chef and Butcher's Guild member Matt Hinckley shaped his self-taught culinary career as he worked his way from kitchens in Africa to Alaska and beyond, eventually landing at Boxpark in Miami. Most recently, he served under James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Schwartz at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and as chef de cuisine at Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami's Design District.

Like most Americans, my first experience with sausage rolls was eating pigs in blankets as a child, typically Vienna sausages or hot dogs wrapped in puff pastry. Like most, I grew out of them (college excluded), until they resurfaced as a larger roll that I discovered while traveling through Australia and working in New Zealand. Particularly intriguing were Australia’s kanga bangas, similar to the American hot dog but made with kangaroo meat. It would be quite a few years before larger sausage rolls would resurface in rural Texas under the alias kolache.

Kolache (koh-LAH-chee) has its roots in the Czech Republic but enjoys a near zealous following in some parts of the United States. Kolache are very often sweet pastries that resemble what most people might consider a Danish. On a recent horn-to-horn road trip through Texas I stumbled across countless roadside spots selling different styles of kolache. Rather than the Danish-like sweet fillings, many Texans were wrapping big smoked sausages in soft breads. It was a Texas-sized approach to the pig-in-a-blanket.

Among many others, Texans take their kolache seriously and have several festivals to celebrate all things kolache. While this recipe isn’t intended to represent either the kolache of Texas or the sausage rolls of New Zealand or Australia, it does pay homage to all things sausage wrapped in all things pastry.

I buy my pork from Palmetto Creek Farms in Central Florida. They run a transparent operation and raise big, happy pigs in line with The Butcher’s Guild’s principles of ethics and sustainability. We try to bring in whole animals as often as possible. In my recent Wild Board Porchetta di Testa post I demonstrated what to do with the heads from pigs or boars. Here we utilize the shoulders, belly, and fatback to make bratwurst in-house.

At Boxpark in Miami, we ferment our own sauerkraut and typically allow it to age for a couple of months before we serve it. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Fresh sauerkraut can be crunchy and squeaky; as it sits, it will develop more flavor and, as a matter of opinion, a more pleasing texture.

The same is true for the mustard. Sample it on the same day that you make it and it will resemble a spicy Chinese mustard. Allow it to sit for a few weeks and the spicy notes mellow out and allow the other flavors to shine through.

Bratwurst Pretzel Roll with Sauerkraut & Tarragon Mustard

Tarragon mustard:

  • 1 1/4 cups dry mustard, packed
  • 2 tsps. sea salt
  • 12 oz. whole eggs
  • 1 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. Mix all ingredients together; allow to sit at room temperature 1 hour.
  2. Whisk over a double boiler until smooth; refrigerate for at least 24 hours (it’s best after a week or two).

Sauerkraut:

  • 1 head of green cabbage, sliced into 1/4” ribbons
  • 30 g sea salt
  • 5 juniper berries, smashed

Toss cabbage with sea salt and juniper berries; allow to sit at room temperature until the cabbage starts to sweat; gently squeeze cabbage and pack into a glass or ceramic jar; place a dinner plate on top of cabbage and weigh down with a gallon jug of water; cover with cheesecloth and leave in a cool, dark place; push cabbage down periodically to make sure that it stays under its brine; ferment for a week; pack into jars and store in refrigerator.

Bratwurst:

  • 13 oz. pork belly
  • 13 oz. pork shoulder
  • 4 oz. pork fatback
  • 12 g sea salt
  • 2 g black peppercorns, toasted and ground
  • 1 g caraway seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 g dried oregano, ground
  • 8 g evaporated milk powder
  • 2 oz. cold pilsner beer or lager
  • clarified butter (for sautéing)
  1. Cut pork into large dice; place in freezer until the edges start to freeze; mix in salt and seasonings; grind through a 3/8” grinding plate; place mixture, along with beer, into an ice-cold mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment; mix on low speed until tacky.
  2. Stuff mixture into 1 1/2” hog casings; twist into 5” links; refrigerate at least 12 hours.
  3. In sauté pan, brown sausages slightly in clarified butter over low heat, being careful not to overcook. (They will be going in the oven, so you are just looking for color.)

Pretzel:

  • 30 g fresh yeast
  • 960 g water
  • 20 g sea salt
  • 30 g evaporated cane juice
  • 175 g bread flour

Dissolve yeast in water; add salt and cane juice; gradually mix in enough flour to form a stiff dough; using a dough hook on medium speed, knead dough for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary; ferment 45 minutes; wrap around bratwurst, reserving a small piece of dough.

Assembly:

  • 2 qts. water
  • 36 g baking soda
  • 15 g sea salt, plus more for topping
  • caraway seeds for topping
  1. Bring water, baking soda, and salt to a boil; add wrapped sausages, along with reserved piece of pretzel dough; boil until small piece of pretzel dough floats to the surface and remains at the surface for 1 minute.
  2. Brush pretzels with egg wash; top with sea salt and/or caraway seeds; bake at 475˚F for 20 minutes, or until golden.