Have you ever treated a hot dog like a brat? A bratwurst, that is, the peppery German-style sausage that’s popular at picnics and tailgate parties throughout Wisconsin. The treatment involves a beer-and-onion bath, a turn on the grill and topping choices from stone-ground mustard to sauerkraut. In Sheboygan, the epicenter of bratwurst culture, sausage-lovers go for a “double with the works,” which includes catsup, mustard, chopped onion and pickles, all served up on “brat buns” or the crusty, oversized roll known in the area as a semmel bun.
We’ve given hot dogs the Sheboygan treatment here, but you could, of course, opt to do this the old-fashioned way: with brats. (Organic Prairie Pork Bratwurst, naturally.)
Heat charcoal in an outdoor grill until coals are mostly gray (or heat a gas grill to medium hot). Bring the beer, butter and sliced onions to a slow simmer in a pot.
Grill hot dogs briefly, just long enough to give them some nice brown grill marks. Add the grilled hot dogs to the beer-onion mixture (you can add a little water or more beer if necessary to cover them with liquid) and turn heat down to lowest setting. Let the hot dogs soak in the hot liquid (don’t boil them!) at least 15 minutes. The longer they soak, the more flavor they develop.
You can also reverse the cooking process: first, simmer the hot dogs very gently in the beer-onion mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, then grill and serve.
Portion two hot dogs per bun and add each of the toppings to taste. Chow down, but take care! The first bite can be a squirter.
Copyright by Terese Allen