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.