With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get ready for grilling season!
One of my favorite foods to grill are sausages, specifically super flavorful and juicy Bratwursts. These sausages are often made from a combination of ground pork and veal for extra tenderness.
They are loaded with tons of flavor thanks to the spices used to season them, and they taste great with beer and onions or sauerkraut or a combination of all three.
You might be wondering whether or not you can eat undercooked Bratwurst or if you risk developing food poisoning.
So, can you eat undercooked Bratwurst? Unlike steak, Bratwurst needs to be completely cooked to kill off any potentially harmful bacteria or parasites. You never want to eat undercooked pork products, such as Bratwurst since these bacteria can cause food poisoning or illness.
Read on to discover more about what Bratwursts are, whether you can eat them undercooked, how to tell if your sausage is undercooked, the best ways to cook them, and more!
What Are Bratwursts?
Bratwursts are a type of sausage, which is a food made from some kind of ground meat combined with spices and seasonings. They can be sold stuffed into casings as sausage links or in bulk as a ground meat mixture.
Bratwursts are a type of German sausage that are typically made from a combination of pork and veal.
Most recipes will include a variety of delicious spices such as ginger, nutmeg, coriander, and/or caraway. However, most regions in Germany have their own variations on this delicious sausage.
In fact, some traditional recipes even include cream and eggs in their mixture for an extra rich and delicious sausage.
What Are The Risks Of Eating Undercooked Bratwursts?
When it comes to the risks associated with undercooked Bratwursts, they are similar to those found if you eat any undercooked meat.
While you might see posts online warning about the dangers of trichinosis, this illness is INCREDIBLY rare in the US.
Trichinosis is a food-borne illness that comes from eating animas that are contaminated with a parasitic worm called Trichinella.
However, this parasite is no longer found in domestic pigs raised in confinement. Most of the cases now come from eating wild bear meat.
With that being said, some pork products that come from animals raised outdoors who can come in close contact with wild animals such as foxes or rodents.
The USDA and many health departments all assure that this illness is incredibly rare in the US, so it’s unlikely you will have to worry about it.
Just to be on the safe side, it’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look for so that you can get treatment for this parasite. Symptoms typically occur 1-2 days after eating the contaminated meat product and include:
- Stomach Pain
Other symptoms can show up 2-8 weeks after the initial infection and include:
- Muscle Aches
- Pain and Swelling Around The Eyes
If you suspect trichinosis, you should get to your doctor since you will likely need to be treated.
In light of all this, you want to make sure you are cooking it to the proper internal temperature of 160°F to prevent any of these nasty symptoms of food poisoning.
What Internal Temperature Should You Look For When Cooking Bratwursts?
When I was growing up, there was a big fear around a parasitic worm in pork called Trichinella. This fear led to a whole generation growing up with dry, overcooked pork products that were tough to chew.
Luckily for all of us, that worm was pretty much eradicated in the 90s, which means that cases are incredibly rare and don’t often come from pork. That means that we don’t have to worry so much about undercooked pork as we used to.
With that said, there are still other types of bacteria and parasites that can live in undercooked or raw meat, especially if it hasn’t been prepared, stored, or cooked properly.
That’s why it is so important to still cook your meat to the proper internal temperature.
While pork chops, tenderloins, and other full cuts of pork can be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F, when it comes to ground pork products, you want to achieve an internal temperature of 160°F to prevent illness.
If you want to make sure that you’re properly cooking your sausages without running the risk of drying them out, then I suggest investing in a meat thermometer.
They aren’t very expensive, and they can help make sure you achieve the perfect temp every single time.
How Can You Tell If Your Bratwurst Is Undercooked?
When it comes to determining whether or not your Bratwurst is undercooked the only true way to tell is by taking the temperature. That’s why I highly recommend investing in a meat thermometer if you cook a lot of meat products.
Without a thermometer, it’s incredibly easy to over or undercook your Bratwurst, since the outside can sometimes brown really quickly, while the middle still looks raw or undercooked.
Your Bratwurst may also be a slightly blushing pink in the midder, but still have reached an internal temp of 160°F.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer on hand, there is a little trick you can try.
- Pick up your Bratwurst with a pair of tongs.
- Wiggle your Bratwurst.
- If it’s still floppy, it’s undercooked. If it is firm and springy, your sausage is ready to eat!
What Is The Best Way To Cook A Bratwurst?
There are a few ways to perfectly cook a Bratwurst that depends on your preference. The method I love most is steaming them in beer on the stove and then finishing them on the grill over an open flame. Below I’ll share my recipe.
What you don’t want to do is boil your Bratwursts in plain water that you’ll throw away after. Boiling your Bratwursts actually leaches out all the fat and flavor from the sausage so you’ll end up with a rubbery, bland sausage.
How To Beer Steam Your Bratwursts
- 2 12-ounce cans of beer
- 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 medium-sized onion, thinly sliced
- 5 Bratwursts
- Sausage buns
- Place beer, chili flakes, garlic powder, sea salt, pepper, and the sliced onion in a medium saucepan on the stove.
- Stir everything together and then add the Bratwursts, making sure they are fully submerged in the liquid.
- Bring the contents to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook the Bratwursts for about 10 minutes.
- While the Bratwursts are cooking, heat a grill or barbecue.
- After 10 minutes, remove the Brats from the liquid. Turn the heat up and let the liquid reduce further.
- Place the Brats on your grill and cook for about five minutes or until there are some nice grill marks. You don’t want to overcook them!
- Remove the Brats from the grill and place them in a sausage bun. You can top with some beer-braised onions, sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup.
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