Why Puncturing A Brat Is A Big Mistake

Variety may be the spice of life, but when it comes to brats, some of us would be happy dining on the sausage links indefinitely. Super moist and packed with savory goodness, bratwurst retains these qualities whether it's grilled or braised. Yet, should the links look or taste lackluster, it's possible that you're making a vital sausage-cooking mistake, like puncturing the casing. To avoid sending quality into a downward spiral, resist the urge to poke and prod brats as they cook.

There is a time and a place to use your sharpest and pointiest culinary utensils — cooking bratwurst isn't it. Forks, knives, and tongs with sharp edges should all be avoided when handling brats as they can accidentally pierce into the casing. Although a delicate prick won't cause the meat to fall out, that doesn't mean there's no damage done. Why, then, is puncturing a brat so bad?

Given that brats boast such a high concentration of fat, puncturing the skins (knowingly or not) means that all of this richness vanishes. As a result, flavors will be compromised since savory juices and fat start seeping out the seams. What's more, texture will also be impacted. As the once-succulent sausages are slowly depleted of their moisture, they risk turning dry and brittle. It's not uncommon for pierced bratwurst to experience shrinkage as well. So, rather than cook up shriveled and flavorless sausages, stop needlessly stabbing into your brats.

How to achieve deliciously juicy brats that stay intact

Grilling the best brats begins with quality meat. It's for this reason that we recommend working with fresh sausages. Buying from your local butcher is ideal since they're likely to carry a wider range of tasty varieties to choose from. Already have a stockpile in the freezer? Always fully thaw a batch of frozen brats beforehand  so they cook evenly.

The most delicious brats are the ones that remain in pristine condition. This is why you need to refrain from scoring, spiralizing, or butterflying the raw product. Along with compromising visual appeal, these techniques can have negative textural effects similar to that of puncturing. Additionally, even if you braise or briefly simmer brats in malty beer prior to grilling, it's still not wise to poke them as doing so won't infuse more flavor into the meat, nor will it make them any juicier.

While you could cook brats in a myriad of ways, we're partial to grilling. After adding the sausages to a clean grill, cook them over medium heat — keeping temperatures moderate will reduce the risk of burnt exteriors and raw interiors, along with preventing split skins. Likewise, frequently turning the links can further ensure the casings don't burst. Just exercise caution when using tongs as one aggressive jab risks ruin. Once they've reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, perfectly plump brats can finally be removed and left to rest. Then and only then, you can slice into them!