Question about brats and smoked sausage
Ok, I’ll try to keep this as short as I can, but it may still be a little lengthy.
There is a VERY popular(lines out the door constantly) meat shop near me that specializes in brats. They have a bunch of different flavors. So one flavor in particular that I’m shooting to make mine like has two versions. On one, the sign says “fresh bratwurst” and the other says “smoked bratwurst sausage” of the same flavor.
So of all the research I’ve done on the net and all watching all of the videos on meatgistics, when someone says “smoked”, it usually means cured and cooked. When someone says “fresh”, it’s referring to brats that got seasoned, mixed, stuffed and thrown into the freezer until ready to cook.
So today I did a little experiment. Me and my buddy made 15lbs of smoked sausage and used the Walton’s 32mm clear collagen casings. These got the sure cure, sure gel binder, accelerator and some basic seasonings with fresh garlic. They got smoked in the PK100 with a water bowl and dry wicking towel like in the videos so we had an approximate 50% humidity.
We also did another batch that was with the same casings and spices, but didn’t have the cure or binder. These got stuffed and thrown into the fridge.
Once the smoked ones were finally done, we cooked the fresh sausage in some boiling water for 10 minutes. We through the smoked sausage in for just a minute or two just to warm it up. For some reason, the casing on the fresh sausage popped off when we took it out of the boiling water. The difference in texture was night and day. The fresh sausage was so juicy and tender. The smoked sausage not so much. Also, I think I’m much more a fan of natural casings vs the collagen casings. The collagen are too chewy to me.
With all that said, and trying to imitate the meat shops brats near me, I’m really curious if they are actually curing and smoking their “smoked brats”. The texture is too tender to have been smoked and brought to 160°. Is there a way to smoke brats just enough to get smoke on them but not cook them while still being safe? Maybe smoke at 120 for an hour, and then into an ice bath and then fridge/freezer? I really feel they are doing something similar to this.
armyguy it might be possible that they are using hickory smoke powder or liquid smoke in the production of them and not putting them in the smoker
armyguy first of all natural casing for brats/ring sausage is the only way to go in my opinion…second maybe try taking your smoked brats to 135-140° then finish up in a water bath…that’s how we did some ring sausage last yr and it was night and day difference…We did some in the smoker all the way and some we did in the smoker to 140 then finished in water. The ones in the water were way better the casing had a nice snap to them vs the other ones the casing was chewy and tough
armyguy When you made the Smoked version and added the binder, cure and accelerator did you mix until you got Protein extraction and then stuff the casings? And if making a Fresh sausage you really should use the Fresh collagen casings. And in my experience the collagen casings do not hold up well to being boiled. Every time I’ve done that the casings came off. Also when I make breakfast links I use the 21mm Fresh casings, if I cook them to fast (meaning to high of heat) the casings will pop. But if I bring the temp up slowly they don’t do that. Also like someone else said it’s very possible that they used a smoke powder or liquid instead of actually smoking their brats. As for you question about if you can smoke them for an hour and then freeze them, I’ll leave that to Jon to answer, he’s the expert. I’m just an old fat guy that knows just enough to be dangerous
armyguy What AdamCA said about not boiling water and protein extraction are both spot on. If you try to put collagen in boiling water it is 100% going to peel off. The best bet is to sous vide cook them in either a vacuum bag or just a zip lock. Then, don’t go over 180 degrees (F). Now, if all you do is cook them in the water they don’t get any nice caramelization from the Maillard effect, which with bratwurst is usually desired. You can do what blackbetty61 mentions for smoked sausage with brats if you wanted, pop them in a pan at high heat to let them caramelize and then put them in a bag, in water to finish up. Best of both worlds that way!
As for what the butcher shop is doing I really don’t know. They might be doing what craigrice said BUT I think there are some legal requirements to call something a smoked sausage and part of that is curing and smoking it. BUT you said “Smoked Bratwurst Sausage” so they might very well be doing this, as I’d bet that would remove any requirements for curing and smoking.
Now, could you smoke brats for an hour and then finish cooking them later. Danger zone for meat is 41 - 140, this is where bacteria really starts to reproduce very quickly, so if you could keep it below 41 you would be okay to do this. You have a PK so you could easily do this on a cold day with something like an amaze-n tube smoker or the flip professional smoke box.
As far as just hot smoking it for an hour at 120 then cooling it and storing it as a fresh sausage I don’t like it for one reason. Some toxins that are created by bacteria spores are heat resistant, so if a bacteria was present and wasnt killed during the initial thermal processing then it very well might create toxins which could be problematic. Adding cure might effectively fix this.
Let me talk to my application specialist on this and I’ll update this Tuesday. Won’t have time tomorrow as we will be doing our 5-hour Livestream tomorrow starting at noon! I hope to see some of you there!
My guess is for the smoked sausage they are curing and then smoking for 3 or 4 hours and then finishing in a steamer or poaching in 175 degree water to bring up to Internal temp of 155.
Many have done this for years and is an acceptable way on many original polish recipes per the old standard book that was publish by the polish government several years ago.
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