Brats, or bratwursts, are a popular type of sausage that are often cooked on the grill, stove, or in the oven. However, many people struggle with determining when brats are fully cooked and ready to eat. Undercooked brats can be dangerous to consume, while overcooked ones can be dry and tough. In this article, we’ll cover the different methods for telling if brats are done, as well as common mistakes to avoid when cooking them.
The Basic Method for Cooking Brats
Before we get into how to tell if brats are done, it’s important to know how to cook them in the first place. There are several methods for cooking brats, including:
- Grilling: Cook brats over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides and cooked through.
- Stovetop: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add brats, and cook until they are browned on all sides and cooked through.
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F, place brats on a baking sheet, and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through.
Regardless of the cooking method, the most important thing is to make sure that the brats are fully cooked before serving.
Checking Temperature of Brats with a Meat Thermometer
The most reliable way to tell if brats are done is to use a meat thermometer. This method ensures that the internal temperature of the brats has reached a safe level for consumption. To use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of brats, follow these steps:
- Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brat.
- Wait for the thermometer to give a reading.
- If the temperature reads 160°F or higher, the brats are fully cooked.
It’s important to note that using a meat thermometer is the most accurate way to tell if brats are done. Other methods, such as visual cues or checking for firmness, may not always be reliable.
Visual Cues for Brat Doneness
While using a meat thermometer is the most reliable way to check for brat doneness, there are other methods that can be used as well. One of these methods is to rely on visual cues. Brats that are fully cooked will be browned on the outside and have no pink on the inside. However, it’s important to note that this method may not always be accurate. Brats that are browned on the outside may still be undercooked on the inside.
Check for Firmness
Another method for checking brat doneness is to check for firmness. Fully cooked brats should be firm to the touch. To check for firmness, gently press the brats with a pair of tongs or a spatula. If they feel firm, they are likely done. If they feel soft or squishy, they may need more time to cook.
Check for Juices
You can also tell if brats are done by checking for juices. Fully cooked brats will release clear juices when they are pierced or squeezed. If the juices are pink or red, the brats are undercooked and need more time to cook.
Using a Fork or Knife
While using a fork or knife to check brat doneness may seem like a good idea, it’s actually not recommended. Piercing the brats with a fork or knife can cause the juices to escape, leading to dry and tough brats. It’s best to avoid using this method and rely on other methods, such as a meat thermometer or visual cues.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
When cooking brats, there are several common mistakes that can lead to undercooked or overcooked sausages. Here are a few things to avoid:
- Cooking brats on too high heat: High heat can cause the outside of the brats to cook too quickly, while the inside remains undercooked. Stick to medium heat to ensure even cooking.
- Overcrowding the cooking surface: Overcrowding the grill or skillet can lead to uneven cooking, as the brats won’t have enough space to brown evenly.
- Cutting into brats too early: Cutting into brats before they’re fully cooked can release juices and cause them to dry out.
- Failing to rest the brats: Just like with any other meat, it’s important to let brats rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your brats turn out perfectly cooked every time.
Serving and Storing Cooked Brats
Once your brats are done cooking, it’s important to serve and store them properly. Here are a few tips:
- Serve brats immediately: Brats are best enjoyed hot off the grill or skillet.
- Store leftover brats in the fridge: If you have leftover brats, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
- Reheat brats properly: To reheat brats, either grill them over medium heat for a few minutes or microwave them for 30 seconds to a minute.
Determining when brats are done can be a challenge, but by using a meat thermometer and relying on visual cues and firmness, you can ensure that your brats are fully cooked and safe to eat. Avoiding common mistakes and serving and storing brats properly can also help to ensure that they turn out perfectly every time. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy delicious, perfectly cooked brats whenever you want.