The Only Type Of Brats You Should Be Butterfly Cutting

German bratwurst has one thing that's consistent across its many regional varieties: It has a sturdy texture with a coarser grind than other types of sausage, and the crisp snap of the casing on a grilled brat is one of life's pleasures. While there are multiple ways to cook brats, there are almost no good reasons to butterfly cut just any type of bratwurst, and there are a couple of great reasons to butterfly those that are already cooked, cured or smoked. Butterflying a raw brat is typically a no-no in the sausage world. Why? For one, attempting to cut a raw sausage in half will only result in the contents spilling from the casing. Two, if the insides don't come all the way out and you manage to get them onto the heat, the fat and moisture will simply escape, resulting in dry, less flavorful brats.

So which types are you butterfly cutting? All brats are made up of parts of pork, veal or beef — or a combination thereof — and mixed with spices, herbs, and sometimes other yummy things like wine. They're sold fresh, or you can buy them smoked or cured, which is what you want to focus on when choosing brats to prepare with the butterflying method. If you have fresh, uncooked brats on hand and aspire to butterfly them and throw them on the grill, choose a pre-cooking method (such as boiling, baking, grilling, or pan-frying).

Butterfly your brats the right way

Though some may say the only reason to butterfly cut any sausage is for aesthetics, we disagree. It's one of the reasons, but not the only one. Sure, butterflied things look cool, and by cutting brats open and exposing the meaty innards, they develop a golden color, some very eye-pleasing char, or those coveted grill marks. Presentation aside, brats that have been opened cook more quickly than whole sausage. Butterflying also allows more of the surface area of the meat to be exposed directly to the heat or flame, giving it a chance to sear, char, or even caramelize, depending on the contents of the brats. 

If you're ready to butterfly cut your brats, you'll want to keep a few tips in mind. Although you're essentially halving your brat link, you don't want to cut it all the way through. Start the cut lengthwise along the sausage and cut just deep enough to leave it in one piece, but sliced well enough to lay flat the brat like you would the spine of a book. When cooking the bratwurst, you're just looking to heat it through and the opportunity for some nice searing. With pre-cooked brats, you'll only need around 5 minutes (or until they reach the desired color). Flip them, and continue to cook until the edges begin to curl slightly. Your brats are now ready to hold all of the tasty toppings, as if in a built-in tray.