When it comes to casual backyard grilling there seems to be two camps. The Burger Devotees and the Hot Dog Purists. Count me in the Hot Dog camp. I love a good grilled hot dog, a little charred on the outside but still juicy on the inside. The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that over seven billion hot dogs will be eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day so I'm not alone in my love of mystery tubes of meat. I wanted something other than the basic grocery store hot dog to start off my official grilling season. I wanted some good German sausages.
Luckily I live close to a place where my wurst hunger can be fed. Werner's sits on a little corner in Mission, Kansas. Inside you'll find a wide assortment of German and Scandinavian products not to mention some excellent butchers. I had many sausages to choose from but finally narrowed it down to 5. From left to right, above, we have the basic long hot dog, the Cheddar Bier Brat, the Polish, a Knockwurst and the intriguing German style Brat. Just the smell of them alone, waiting in the fridge for Sunday, was intoxicating.I thought about what else I wanted with my sausages. At first I considered German styled potato salad but when I saw Vidalia onions at the store I decided to make onion straws. I've never been a fan of the thick, heavily breaded onion rings you find in so many restaurants. I decided to fry up a batch of the thinly sliced, barely dusted onion rings my mom used to make for us as kids. The results? All were excellent, the Cheddar and Polish were packed with flavor and spice. But it was the German style Brat that made me wish I had bought more than one. A mild sausage lacking the kick of the others but also allowing the actual flavors of the pork and veal take center stage. It was incredibly different from the flavor injected, salt laden vacuum packed hot dogs that we consume so many of every summer. It was delicious. And why not, I had taken the suggestion of Susan of 29 Black Street and made up a batch of Fruit Chili Sauce to put on that mild sausage. Sadly Werner's is not open on Sunday's or else I would have stocked up on more of those lovely sausages before my grill had a chance to cool off.