Bratwurst Burgers

This past weekend, I was cleaning out the freezer and found some home made bratwurst (using this recipe) hiding in the back. This package of brats was in bulk form (ie wasn’t stuffed into casings) and I thought it would be perfect to make some burgers.  Now, if you don’t happen to have fresh, home made bratwurst in your freezer (I do feel sorry for you), then you can always grab some links from your grocery store, slice open the casings and form them into your own burgers. I happened to have a pound of bratwurst which was perfect to make 3 patties as I like my burgers around 1/3 lb each. Feel free to make your patties to whatever size makes you happy.

Bratwurst patties on the grill
Bratwurst patties on the grill

I set up my Egg for a direct cook around 500F. The bratwurst burgers were grilled for about 2 minutes, then turned 90 degrees, grilled another 2 minutes, then flipped and repeated on the other side. Grill until the temp reaches 160F (carryover will take it to 165F). Even though the FDA says pork is safe at 145F, with ground pork (ie sausage), I like to play it on the safe side, especially if I didn’t grind it myself and it’s store bought.

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns
Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

I know pretzel buns are probably “so last year”, but while at the store getting some other things, I spotted them at my bakery for the first time. I’m not always the first to jump on every food bandwagon. Often times, I just watch it pass by and shake my head. Some of them make no sense to me, but pretzel buns with bratwurst burgers? Seemed like they were made for each other. Made me take a short trip down memory lane. Sitting at a biergarten in Germany. Drinking beer and snacking on pretzels and sausages.  Good times. Sorry. My minds started to wander there for a bit.

So how to top these bratwurst burgers? I decided to keep it simple. Some spicy, brown mustard and a bit of sauerkraut. And why not some more pretzels on the side and a cold beer to wash it down (not pictured)?

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Taking a food that is normally eaten as a link and serving it in a burger form was different, to say the least. I mean I knew on a mental level what to expect it to taste like, but picking it up, it was like some kind of mental muscle memory kicked in and I almost expected it to taste like a burger. Like the eyes and sense of taste and mind just weren’t meshing up. It’s hard to explain. I think I had the same experience when we made King Ranch Mac and Cheese. I expected that to taste like Mac and Cheese, but then got all the flavors of King Ranch Chicken. Weird what the brain can do to you sometimes. Regardless, it was a pretty tasty burger/bratwurst burger. The only thing I think it was missing was some kind of cheese. What kind of cheese would you serve on a bratwurst burger?

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Fajita Chicken Wings with a Creamy Chipotle Dipping Sauce

     Some of you may know that yesterday was National Chicken Wing Day (7/29/14). If you lived in my house, you would have known for sure. One of my favorite food holidays of the year. What’s not to love? Crispy, bite sized food? You’re expected to use your hands? People don’t frown down on you if you get a bit messy? And most often come with some kind of tasty dipping sauce? Check, check and check. Sounds like the perfect food group to me.

     I’m always on the look out for a new wing recipe. This time, I used a little influence from growing up in South Texas and a nod to Chris over at NibbleMeThis to come up with my version of fajita chicken wings and a creamy chipotle dipping sauce. A little fusion of Tex-Mex and chicken wings.

Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day
Fajita Chicken Wings for National Chicken Wing Day

     While Chris’s recipe is a little more in depth with more ingredients and a marinade process, I kept mine fairly simple by just using Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning for two reasons. I like the flavor and I find that marinades can prevent the skin on chicken wings from getting crispy.

Ingredients

  • chicken wings
  • Fiesta Chicken Fajita Seasoning (or any brand you may prefer)
  • cornstarch (optional)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 2 chipotle peppers, chopped + 1 tsp juice
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • dash of ancho chile pepper
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener
Chicken Fajita Seasoning and my lil devil bottle opener

Directions

  1. Lightly dust your chicken wings with corn starch (optional – this will help the skin get crispy as it cooks). Then dust the wings with fajita seasoning. Arrange the wings in a single layer on a platter and cookie sheet and place in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 12 hours. This process will allow the wings to air dry and will also help them crisp up.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set the bowl in the fridge and allow flavors to marry for an hour or two.

    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce
    Creamy chipotle dipping sauce
  3. Preheat your grill to 400F. If using a Kamado style grill, set it up for a raised direct cook. If using other grills, set it up for a two zone cook (one side with the coals or burners on and one side without) so that you can shuffle the wings back and forth in case of flare ups.
  4. Grill wings for 30 minutes, turning two or three times to ensure even cooking. Keep an eye out for flare ups and move wings to the unlit side of the grill if necessary.
  5. Wings are safe to eat at 165F, but I usually like to take mine to 175-180 to get that crispy skin. Not to worry. The wings will not dry out.
Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.
Wings cooking at 400F raised direct. Almost done.

     I went back and forth on what to serve with my wings. On the one hand, I wanted to keep with the Tex-Mex thing and thought about going with Mexican rice. Maybe some boracho beans. But that would require using a utensil and would counter balance part of the fun of wings…eating with your hands. Or I could just go with one of my other favorite foods…Tater Tots!! Yep, tater tots won out.

Wings and tots makes me happy.
Wings and tots makes me happy.

     It’s always interesting to switch things up on wing night. That first bite you expect to get some heat. These wings don’t bring the heat, though. They bring those flavors that you have come to expect from fajitas. Cumin, garlic, onion and a hint of citrus. The Chipotle Dipping Sauce doesn’t serve the same purpose as the normal bleu cheese or ranch that you get with Buffalo Wings. It’s not there to cool off your mouth from the heat from the wings. Most people enjoy their fajitas with sour cream. This sauce gives you that sour cream along with the smokiness of the chipotle peppers and some heat from the cayenne and ancho. Completely optional, but it adds that extra dimension to the wings that really set them off.

Demolished
Demolished

     Next time you are thinking about wings, try thinking outside the box. How could other cultures influence your wings and take them to a whole nother playing field? You might surprise yourself. You just might come up with a recipe that replaces Buffalo Wings as your favorite type of wings.