Click Here For Easter Bread
The Soup Lady has just returned from a trip to Baltimore, a city which - according to the hotel room tv channels - seems to be composed of only the Inner Harbor and the carcasses of millions of dead crabs. One cannot escape the city without engaging a crab in some shape or form, be it food, a tshirt that says "Don't Bother Me I'm Crabby" or some tasty claw chocolate in the form of a crab-shaped candy bar.
You can use fresh cooked, frozen or canned crab meat for this recipe. In a minimally processed recipe like this one, the quality of the ingredients - the scotch as well as the crab meat - will affect the quality of the finished product. Never use imiation crab meat, despite it's jolly identification as "krab".
DRUNKEN CRAB SOUP
1/2 - 3/4 pound of crab meat
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of Scotch whiskey
1 quart of milk
Salt and pepper
Old Bay Seasoning
1. Prepare the crab meat by picking through it to remove any bits of shell or cartilage and then shredding the meat into small pieces.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and then add the crab meat and the heavy cream, followed by whiskey.
3. Stir over medium low heat until the mixture is heated through.
4. Stir in the milk and pepper and then taste for seasoning. Depending in which form of crab meat you are using*, the additional salt needed may vary.
5. Stir frequently to avoid scorching and heat until very hot throughout - never bring to a boil.
6. Serve in individual pre-heated bowls and garnish with a pinch of Old Bay Seasoning in the center of the bowl.
WholeHeatlhMD.com lists the different types of crab - Alaskan King Crab is sold as fronzen meat and is readily availabe anywhere, but for that true Baltimore taste experience, its the Blue Claws that you need. Knowing the difference between the types and origin can help you choose the crab that is best suited for its final use:
*Crabs are sold live, and their meat--delicately sweet, firm yet flaky--is available fresh cooked, frozen, and canned. Fresh crabmeat is sold as lump, backfin, or flake. Lump crabmeat, which consists of large, choice chunks of body meat, is the finest and most expensive. Backfin is smaller pieces of body meat. Flake is white meat from the body and other parts and is in flakes and shreds. Some fresh-cooked crab is pasteurized after cooking, which helps it keep longer. Canned crab is often imported from Asia and may come from a variety of species." wholehealthMD.com
Other helpful information on this site lists how to select, "prepare" (kill) and cook live crabs.
The Soup Lady has something you don't have: stuffed grapeleaves on demand. Yes, our mister was born in Egypt and when he came to the U.S., he brought along the recipes and kitchen techniques of his mother. His standards are exacting - every dish must live up to his memory of childhood perfection. I doubt very much if every dish was as picture-perfect as he remembers but picture-perfect is what he wants.
This greatly works to my advantage because whenever the menu calls for one of those classic dishes, such as babaganoush or tabouleh, he trusts no one. I don't mind in the least giving up kitchen control especially when the end result of a labor-intensive dish as this is so delicious.
These are the grapeleaves he's been making for all the years of our married life. Our children have been helping since they were very small and under his tutelage, have become proficient and are able to produce according to his standard. What that means for me is that anytime I want them, all I have to do is threaten to make them by my Lithuaniain self and someone with Egyptian blood coursing through their veins will intervene. Sweet!
Like all authentic ethnic recipes that have made their way to America, this one has no exact measurements. For your sake, I tried to estimate amounts but really you should follow your instincts. There are only a few things you need to know:
STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES
2 pounds of chopped meat
1 1/4 cup of long-grain rice, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
one large jar of grape leaves
5 fresh limes
two heads of garlic
dried mint leaves
(all images are thumbnails. click to enlarge)
Mix the meat, the rice, the allspice and the cinnamon together in a bowl. No salt is necessary because the grape vine leaves are packed in brine and that will add to the final flavor. The measurements are inexact, but the proper ratio of meat-to-rice should look like this.
The best grape leaves to use are also the easiest to find- Orlando Grape Leaves from California. It's not unheard of to use the leaves of those pesky wild grape vines that plague your landscaping but you have to boil them first and they really are not as tender, flavorfull or as easy to work with as the bottled variety. Take the leaves out of the bottle, unroll and drain but do not rinse. Select a single leaf and start by cutting off the stem. Place the leaf onto a plate with the smooth, shiny side down.
To make the stuffed grapeleaf, start by folding the lower flaps up towards the point of the leaf, covering the meat. Using your fingertips, roll the thing away from you a half-turn.
Bring the roll close to you and use the palm of your hand to apply gentle pressure while rolling the thing away from you again. You can, if necessary, then use a back-and -forth rolling motion to even out the filling inside the rolled leaf. This is the step that insures that the rolls are uniform and tight and will prevent unrolling in the pot and messy falling apart when you lift it up to eat it.
The acceptable limits, according to that high personal standard mentioned before, is that no finished roll may be bigger than your index finger. The preferred size is no bigger than your pinky finger. Place the rolls into a large stock pot, placed tightly next to one another. Fill the bottom of the pot entirely before you move on to the next layer.
Place an inverted plate big enough to cover most of the surface of the rolls inside the pot. (Ours is weighted with pieces of marble. I don't recommend that, but he insists.) Add enough water to reach the top of the rolls. Pout it gently down the side of the pot so as not to disturb the arrangement of the rolls, mint and garlic. Sometimes he adds more lime juice at this point.
Set the pot on the burner and bring to just boiling. You don't want to wildly boil and risk unrolling in the pot. Reduce the heat to get a slow rolling boil for 30 minutes, just enough to cook the meat and rice. Turn off heat and remove the plates. Remove the grape leaf rolls one by one with tongs.
How to eat: Consume everything. Choose the smallest ones for yourself put them on your plate with some of the pot liquor. Pick up the stuffed grapeleaf rolls with your fingers. Eat the garlic cloves, eat the mint, consume the pot liquor. Serve with warm pita bread, hummus and/or plain yogurt. Use the bread as a vehicle for the hummus, the yogurt and the pot liquor. Pot liquor. Pot liquor. I like to say that. Refrigerate leftovers in a spot where it is hard for others to get to, assuring that you will benefit the most from others labor.
Yield: a great big potfull. These reheat in a microwave without problem. Be sure to add some pot liqour when you reheat them. Pot liquor.
How is it possible that the Soup Lady has lived her whole life and never even been in the same room with a pagach? It is , after all, part of my ethnic heritage and certainly fits the criteria for Salvic foods: white, cheap and greasy. Yum Yum.
During a visit to our home town, the Soup Sister (who now lives in Georgia) expressed a desire to taste pagach once more. "Whatever do you mean once more?" says I. Turns out that while I went for the bright lights/big city experience, she immersed herself in the local culture of northeastern Pennsylvania and became something of a pagach connoisseur. Not only did she know where to find them, she kept up a running comentary evaluating each local maker's results, all while the Soup Lady was at the wheel, desperately trying to peer through the mists of memory to find the correct winding mountain road in the pitch dark.
And what is this mysterious delicacy, you might wonder? What creation could be so delicious as to overcome its unfortunate clunker of a name and become the object of desire? It's a stuffed bread, usually made from cabbage or potato filling baked inside of pizza dough. That's right - the local pizza parlors all have pagach on the menu and that is what we were searching for - a pizza parlor. Here we see the pagach nestled snuggly in its pizza box on the morning after. It is nothing if not filling, so despite the longing, we were only able to consume a few cuts.
2-1/2 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 pkg yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lg onion peeled and sliced
1 med head cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup oil
1 medium onion
1/4 lb oleo
1 tablespoon milk
5 oz cheddar cheese
The dough: Dissolve yeast in the water. add salt and 2 1/2 cups flour and knead smooth and
elastic, adding more flour as needed. Place dough on countertop, cover with
stainless steel bowl. Allow to rise double in bulk.
Potato filling: Cook the potatoes in 2 quarts salted water, until done. Drain. Fry onion in oleo until golden. Add to the potatoes. Add cheese, milk and salt and pepper and mash with the potatoes.
Saute onion in oil until soft. Add shredded cabbage and salt and pepper and cover and cook until cabbage is tender and soft. Drain off any excess oil.
Punch down dough and divide into 2 parts. Cut bread dough in half. Roll out one half and place on cookie sheet. Place cooled potato filling on one side of the dough and spread the cabbage filling on the other half, leaving a 2 inch margin at the edges. Cover with the other half of the dough. Carefully pinch edges together. Brush oil over the top of the dough and sprinkle with salt or garlic salt. Place on greased baking sheet. Let rise until double.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Around here, you can get pagach that are all cabbage, all potato, or potato and cheese. Personally, the Soup Lady likes the two fillings mixed together so that you get the goodness of each in every bite.
The Soup Lady just adores the taste of Linguine with White Clam Sauce but there are so many tribulations that go along with it, aren’t there? The first set of problems comes with the making of the sauce – trying to hang on to those sneaky little bivalves to chop them up can be so tiresome. The next challenge is in the eating – the Soup Lady finds it so disadvantageous if one has to pursue the elements of a meal around the plate. All that unraveling and of course, the spectacle of the unchopped clams right there in front of you … well, it’s not for the more delicate among us, is it now?
You will be glad to know that the Soup Lady has solved these messy problems –now you can have the taste experience without the mess and bother! Here is my humble little offering – a dish equally influenced by sunny Italy and rainy Sopranoland. I could just call it Pasta with White Clam Sauce That Has Tuna Fish Mashed Up Into It, but it really deserves a more lyrical name so here it is: The Ears of Charlie Twofish .
The Pasta: I box of orecchiette. One of the problems with the traditional Linguine with White Clam Sauce is that you start twirling up the linguine and you suddenly realize "Wait, this is mostly just linguine because the sauce keeps slipping off. What the heck?" To combat that , the Soup Lady prefers the little cup shaped orecchiette. (This is supposed to translate as little ears and I guess they do look like that if the ears you have in mind belong to Topo Gigio.) You could easily use small shells, but this bowl-shaped pasta really can carry a big load of solid bits from the sauce and that’s really what you want, isn’t it?
The fish: I can of Progresso White Clam Sauce, 1 can Italian-style tuna fish packed in olive oil. Now you can go around waiting for the clam boat to come in and start picking out just the ones you want, and then go with the scrubbing, the steaming and the chopping , or you could put your faith in a can of Progresso White Clam Sauce. Don’t be a snob – this is good, its safe and its dependable. The real taste sensation comes when you open a can of tuna packed in olive oil, mash it up with a fork and add the clam sauce to it. The tuna adds texture and flavor and is overall much richer than clams sauce alone. Don’t let your experience with the anemic Solid White Tuna in Spring water influence you against trying this – I’m telling you it’s a different thing altogether. Don’t be afraid.
The Sauce: onions, garlic, butter, salt , pepper, dried oregano, fresh parsley , red pepper flakes. Chop a small white onion into a fine dice and gently sauté it in 2 tablespoons of butter. Along with 1 clove of minced garlic. Add a tablespoon of dried oregano, ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley and a dash of salt and stir over low heat until heated through. Add the fish mixture to this and then some fresh black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Taste to adjust seasonings – you may need more salt at this point. Add the cooked pasta and mix.
The Garnish: top with more chopped parsley. You can mix in some fresh chopped tomatoes if you like, but I’d try it my way first. Add the tomatoes the second time around.
The Compliments and the Credit: At this point, you must be prepared to receive all manner of complements. Your guests will be amazed at the familiar and yet enhanced flavors in this dish and they will thank you because they are not compelled to make awkward maneuvers to keep slippery linguine on their forks. You must tell them that this culinary marvel was created by the Soup Lady, or possibly her Italian-American neighbors and the Soup lady just copied it.
But I did invent the name
Serve an uncomplicated salad of bitter greens with this, say something with a lot of chicory and arugula. End the meal with some fresh fruit. Please don't mess this up by trying to add grated cheese - you don't need it and it will nullify the kick of the red pepper flakes.
The Soup Lady doesn't know from making a Seder, but she knows a good thing when she sees it. Debra Galant calls this dish the culinary highpoint of her Passover dinner and that's good enough for me. She writes:
Dear Soup Lady,
My husband’s Aunt Frieda offers a very traditional Seder, using the Maxwell House Hagaddah, and the Seder is run by her very charming husband, Uncle Irv. (Of course. Most Jewish families have at least one Uncle Irv.) Frieda usually makes one chicken dish, one beef or veal, plus the farfel, plus potato puffs, plus matzo ball soup of course, plus hard-boiled eggs, plus gefilte fish, plus asparagus and sometimes a yummy black radish dish made with schmalz(chicken fat). In addition to all the ceremonial foods and the desserts, she makes the most amazing Banana Farfel - the high point, culinarily, for Passover for me. That and matzo brie, which is just French toast made with matzo. (I've read that Steven Spielberg has matzo brei every day.) Aunt Frieda said it was ok to let loose on the internet with this, and she made me rummage through my tin box of recipes for it:
1 banana, cut lengthwise
1 apple, peeled and cut lengthwise
To prevent discoloration of the fruit, place the slices into a bowl of cool water to which a small amount of lemon juice has been added. Cover the farfel with cold water and drain immediately - do not let it get soggy. Add the beaten eggs and mix. Stir in the salt, sugar, fat or oil, and the diced apple. Place in a well-greased 9X9 baking dish. Place the sliced apples and bananas on top of the mixture, alternately. Bake at 350 for 35 - 40 minutes. Watch for it to brown. It is best to use a glass baking dish so you can watch it.
I have been going to this Seder and eating this farfel dish for 19 years, since I was just my husband's girlfriend. She calls it Farfel Pudding, but I would say it's much more a consistency of a kugel. Farfel is just broken up pieces of matzo, I think. The taste? Out of this world.
It's Week 5 of the Lenten season and meat-free meals are all around. Fish, fish sticks, baked fish, tuna fish, fried fish, fish balls and Hey, how about some fish?Luckily, in this neck of the woods, the fish are outnumbered by the pierogis. Clam chower suddenly has a big presence around here now, but when I was growing up, we didn't have clams and could barely afford fish. But honey, we had plenty of potatoes. A hot lunch of tomato soup and potato pancakes every Friday for 12 years makes me something of an expert when it comes to assessing a potato pancake.
This is not a good potato pancake:
Note the leaden appearance - can't you just feel the grease right through the computer screen? This is a result of two things: first, the frying oil was not hot enough and second, fine grating turned the potato into unappealing pulp. A good one has a lot of unprocessed potato surface and it's quickly fried in very hot oil until it all exposed surfaces are crisp.
Now this is a good pancake. From none other than Martha Stewart herself (What will we do without you, Martha?) comes instructions for a perfect pancake. The secret is that the potato is grated on the long side to produce lovely strips of potato that bunch together loosely. Then the oil can get in the spaces between the potato strips to do it work. the other thing that makes this a superior experience is that there is no flour used as a binder. The flavor is pure spud -not greasy flour paste- because the binder is the thick starchy water drained from the potatoes.
Sometimes I give myself a laugh by adding sweet potatos to the mixture instead of using all white, but of course, that is not the classic P.P. experience. The Soup Lady is a card-carrying member of the Sour Cream Club when it comes to potato pancakes. Try these with a bowl of plain tomato soup for the perfect meat-free meal. Unless you happen to like fish.
Where does the time go? Here we are turning over the calendar page to February and not a thing has been done around here to prepare for Groundhog's Day. Luckily for the Soup Lady, others have not been hibernating and are all set to celebrate the holiday.
Try some Groundhog's Day cookies from our favorite terrycloth primate. These tasty little delights tell the whole story: "The cookies look just like burrows with the proud and majestic groundhog emerging into the sun to display his meteorological prowess." Who could resist? (I'm beginning to think that the monkey is the Martha Stewart of the terrycloth world. There's something there for every holiday - I can hardly wait until Valentine's Day rolls around to see what goes on over there.) Click here for Groundhog Cookie Recipe.
Make a cake in the shape of a groundhog. Ok, this is really presented as a porcupine, but I think if you serve it on February 2nd, and say "Would you care for a piece of Groundhog cake?" no one will quibble about it. The cake has a few steps to it, but they are all easy and fun, too. The center of the cake is truffle-filled and looks delish (if you are the type that likes chocolate.) Click here for Groundhog Cake Recipe.
What could be closer to heaven on earth that a heaping platter of those little fireballs known as Buffalo Chicken Wings. You may have noticed the the Soup Lady did not recommend serving these at your SuperBowl party because that would be the end of any kind of TV watching for me - I'd spend the time staring at these delightful little snacks and then later at the pile of bones to be sure that I got every little bit of meat from them.
A plea to all restaurants, bars and take-out places in America: Please do not skimp on the celery when someone places an order of wings. And don't try palming off carrot sticks either. All you need is three things: wings, celery and blue cheese dressing to cut the fire on your lips. Also, make sure to serve the wings crispy. No one wants to take a bite and find themselves pulling away with a mouthful of stretchy skin.
To ensure that they are served just so, try making them yourself. They are not that hard, don't take up too much time, and you can adjust the heat of the firey sauce to suit the crybabies in your social circle. This recipe comes from that good-time gal, Martha Stewart who is becoming well known for licking her fingers and washing it all down with a slug from a beer bottle (which she actually did on the episode of her TV show that features this recipe.)
The Soup Lady likes this sauce because it produces the correct effect: the burning is on your lips and in your mouth, but does not iritate any other part of your digestive system.
Buffalo Chicken Wings (Serves 2 to 4 )
2 quarts canola oil or Crisco
3 1/2 pounds chicken wings,
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Frank’s RedHot Sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1. Heat 4 inches of oil in a deep fryer or medium stockpot over high heat until a deep fryer thermometer registers 400°. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. Add half of the wing pieces to hot oil, and fry until dark golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer to prepared baking sheets to drain.
2. While wings are cooking, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add hot sauce, Tabasco, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until hot. Lower heat, and keep warm until ready to use.
3. When the first batch of wings is finished cooking, transfer to an airtight container. Add half the sauce, and cover tightly. Shake container to fully coat wings. Repeat with remaining wings and sauce. Serve immediately with blue-cheese dressing and celery sticks on the side.
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1/4 lemon, or to taste
salt and black pepper
In a small bowl, stir to combine all ingredients.
1. Eat wing.
2. Exclaim: "Hooboy! That is really hot!"
3. Pick up celery stick while stinging sensation in lips increases.
4. Dip celery stick into blue cheese dressing.
5. Consume celery with dressing and notice immediate relief hotsauce-induced distress.
6. Repeat steps 1 - 5.
... AND BEER, AND THEN MORE BEER
(aka HOW TO THROW A KEG PARTY IN AN INTESTINAL CASING)
The Soup Lady cannot resist a sweet-talkin' man. If none are available, I'll settle for just a talkin' man. Recently, the Soup Lady recieved this letter from one of the talkin'est men around, Charlie, whose website is the so aptly named Where The Hell Was I? The Soup Lady does enjoy knocking back a cold one every now and then so if you do too, this recipe is for you:
Howdy, Soup Lady. My name is Charlie, and I want to let you in on a little secret of mine. See, I have the recipe for the best damned backyard barbecue bratwursts that you'll ever sink your sun-soaked, beer-drenched, potato salad-eatin' teeth into. You know, if you have that sort of teeth. And I do -- good Lord and butter, yes I do.
So, as a public service, I'd like to share my secret with you. (No, not that secret; the bratwurst secret. Pay attention!)
It's an ancient recipe, dating back many, many years to the Old Country, when all the cars were deisel-powered, and Kraftwerk was still cool. It was passed down from generation to generation, until I finally got the recipe a few years back from a kindly old German sausage-maker as we swilled Heinekens in the lobby of a local Holiday Inn.
(Okay, so I'm assuming that he was German, because he was wearing lederhosen. And I suppose I inferred that he was a sausage grinder because of the unidentifiable meaty gunk under his fingernails. It's entirely possible that he was just some homeless guy making it up as he went along so I'd keep buying him booze. Look, do you want to hear the recipe or not? Okay, good -- let's get to it, then.)
So, the actual recipe. I suppose it's customary to start with an ingredients list:
The requisite number of buns (no snickering, please)
Two large white onions
4-6 bottles of forgettable beer
At least a case of memorable beer
Condiments, sauerkraut (if you're into that sort of thing), chips, and other optional doodads (I'll explain)
And so it begins. The preparation of these world-beating brats begins the night before the big bash. For our purposes, we'll call it:
T-minus sixteen hours --
This is the hard part. This is when you actually have to go to the supermarket and buy all the crap above. But trust me -- it's all downhill from here. And the important thing is to get good brats. Only the best, dude.
That means, if you can get your hands on the real, authentic, homemade kind, then run -- don't walk -- to your butcher's or friend's or mother's, and grab as many as you can carry. If you can't finagle the good shit, then do the best you can with the packaged variety that you'll find at the store. I've had the best luck with Johnsonville brand meat-like products, and they seem to be pretty ubiquitous. Plus, they have a 'Beer'n Brats' five-pack that's already got some of the good stuff (read: beer) in there. So grab those if you can, and then throw the other crap above into your cart and get the hell back home.
Which brings us to:
T-minus fourteen hours --
Find a container or containers large enough to comfortably fit the bratwurst. Some sort of Tupperware thingamabob will do quite nicely, if you have that sort of thing lying around. Don't be stingy with the elbow room -- these are bratwurst, not sardines, we're dealing with here, pal.
Grab a couple of the forgettable beers and dump 'em into the container(s). Just enough to cover about an inch of the container, to create a nice, fun wading pool for your party meat. (Okay, that may have come out wrong. You know what I meant.)
Next, wash and prep your onions as much as you deem necessary. Some people feel the need to steam-sterilize the damned things; other people are happy to cut off the bottoms and wipe the rest on their shirt. It doesn't really atter. Just cut what you end up with in halves, and chop one of the halves into roughly thumb-sized chunks. (Taking care not to chop an actual thumb off in the process, thanks so much.) Place the chopped half-onion in the container with the beer. You are now the lucky and proud owner of a 'brat bed'. Congratulations!
Next, in go half of the brats. (You can estimate, if you have an odd number of brats. It's okay; you're a big boy.) Just grab 'em out of the package or sack or bookbag, or whereever the hell you have 'em, and plop! 'em into the onion and beer. Once you've got half of the brats nestled comfortably, slice the other half of the first onion as before, and add the chunks to the container.
If you've got a particularly big container, you can also add more beer at this point. Otherwise, just add the rest of the brats, and then use as much beer as is necessary to submerge the little guys completely. You're looking for an 'underwater sausage adventure' here, not 'bratwurst water skiers', okay? Granted, they'll float a little bit on you, but with enough beer, you can get them doused more or less completely.
If you're into fresh, raw onion as a condiment, then you can save one or both halves of the remaining onion for the next day. If the next day is a 'hot date', though, you're probably better off chopping it up and plunking it in with the brats to soak overnight. (I got that one from Dear Abby, gents, but you can have it for free.)
A quick word about this stage of preparation -- do not, under any circumstances, poke, prod, or otherwise pierce the meat! (As guys, I probably shouldn't have to tell you that, as it sounds downright terrifying, but I want to be sure we're on the same page here.) While it might seem like a good idea to 'let the beer in', you'd also be letting the brat juices out, and that's a Bad Thing™. A Very Bad Thing™, indeed. So don't do it. Smack your little hands!
Oh, and if you're particularly adventurous, you can add other stuff to the beer and onions, if you like. It's essentially a marinade, after all, and marinades are a lot like demolition derbies. There are no rules, and as long as you wear your helmet, no one's likely to get hurt. Or something like that. Anyway, feel free to chop peppers into the mix, or add hot sauce, or just about anything you think might be tasty.
You can even get all crazy with the beer you put in. I tend to use cheap beer in the pot to get rid of it, so I can drink the good stuff, but it doesn't have to be that way. A good bock will do wonders for your brats, and I know people who like weiss and lagers, as well. We used Michelob Amber Bock at our last brouhaha, with very good results. Knock yourself out. When there's beer and meat involved, it's hard to go wrong.
Once you're finished whipping up your beery concoction, put it in the fridge and hit the sack. You've got a big day tomorrow, mister, so try to get some sleep!
T-minus one hour --
This is the point where you should probably fire up your grill. Charcoal is preferred, but if you simply must use gas, well -- you gotta do what you gotta do, dude. Just don't expect to win any blue ribbons with the results. Oh, it'll be good -- mouth-watering delicious, even -- but harcoal just tastes better. This is the one time when you should believe what the commercials on TV tell you. (Okay, one of two times. Reading really is fun! Really! Hey, look at how much you're enjoying reading this, right? Right? C'mon, you know you are... don't be shy, now.)
Okay, so fiddling with the grill will take a while, so now we're at:
T-minus twenty minutes --
Okay, here's where we really start having fun. Find a big enormous pot of some kind, and blast one of the burners on your stove up to eleven. Just kick it as high as the damned thing will go. Put the pot on the fire, and get your unholy brat broth from the night before out of the kitchen. Dump it all -- brats, beer, onions, and accessories -- into the pot. If your pot is bigger than your container(s), you may need more beer at this point. No, no -- not to take your mind off it, ya dildo. Use the beer to make sure the brats are covered in the pan. Of course, if you want to have a celebration beer or three once the crisis is over, then I'm not gonna stop ya. This is thirsty work, after all.
Okay, so soon enough, the beer will start boiling. And soon after that, it'll start boiling over, being full of frothy goodness as it is. So you want to catch it just as it starts boiling, and turn the heat down a bit, to prevent your stove and kitchen floor from getting a beer bath. (Yes, I know it sounds cool, but it's not something you want for your kitchen appliances, okay? For yourself, at a party at the Playboy mansion, maybe, but not for your kitchen. Trust me on this one.)
So, keeping an eye on the liquid level, you want the brats to boil for five to ten minutes or so. Ideally, they'll be ready just as the grill reaches maximum cooking capacity. So you'll have to juggle the two just a bit as you count down to:
Five... four... three... two... one... --
Houston, we are now grilling brats! I repeat, we are a go! All systems are green and tasty!
So, when you're ready, transfer the brats to the now-smoking grill. Do it with a set of tongs, or a spatula if you can't find tongs. (Or if you've made the serious but common error of mistaking 'tongs' with 'thongs', and are therefore wearing your tongs on your feet, or wrapped around your ass. Tsk.) Anyway, the point, as before, is -- do not pierce the brats. Leave 'em intact, and they'll plump when you cook 'em, and keep all their meaty-beery-oniony juicy goodness inside throughout the grilling process. So be good to your meat, folks, and your meat will be good to you.
Having said that, the less you fiddle with your meat, the better. (Too much, and you'll start growing hair on the palms of your tongs. Fear it!) But seriously, you've got other work to do. Just get the brats on the grill, and drop the lid on the grill for five or ten minutes. They'll be fine.
In the meantime, though, you've got work to do. Or to delegate, if you have a lovely assistant to help you. Or even a punk-ass roommate. Any warm body will do at this point. And what needs to happen is this:
Find a skillet or pan of some sort. A clean one is best, but you know your lifestyle better than I; who am I to judge what you'll tolerate? Carefully -- carefully now -- dump the water out of the big boiling pot, making sure to save the beer-soaked onions. Transfer the onions to the skillet over the still-hot stove, and saute those puppies while the brats are sizzling on the grill. Get 'em nice and brown and stinky -- you're gonna use 'em on the brats in a couple of minutes, so you want 'em to be worthy of the honor.
After a few minutes, turn the brats, again using tongs or a spatula. The latter is a helluva lot harder, but it's doable. If I have to go that route, I'll usually find a salad spoon to get better leverage. Sometimes it takes two utensils to flip your meat properly. (Okay, that one you can read as a vague sexual euphemism if you want. I hereby grant you permission.)
And the one turn ought to pretty much take care of things. If the grill is good and toasty, you should see some nice browning on the sides of the brats that you're flipping over. If that's the case, then you only need to tan the other side for just about as long, and you're done. If not, then you'll have some more flipping to do; just be careful, and make sure the things aren't raw, all right? I don't want anyone sullying this fantastic recipe by serving still-squirming brats at their BBQ, okay?
In any case, by the time you've got the brats brown and delicious, the stinky onions will be done, as well. Get those two crazy kids together on a bun and chow down already, would you? Serve 'em with chips and picnic salads and such, and grab a couple of the good beers to drink with 'em. Then you'll be pimpin', my friends. Straight brat pimpin'.
You can dress your brats up, too, if you want a little more excitement. I like mine with a couple squirts of mustard and a splash of hot sauce. But I'm not going to laugh and point if you want relish, or sauerkraut, or cheese, or just about anything else. (Okay, I don't really understand ketchup on a brat, but I try to keep an open mind. It's not easy, but I try.)
And that's it! Sure, they take sixteen hours to make, but you're really only working for an hour or so. And it took you at least that long to read this damned recipe, so clearly, you've got the time to spare.
So, that's my brat extravaganza! I hope you've enjoyed learning about it as much as I've enjoyed eating it, and drinking it, and writing about it. And I hope the brats are as good to you as they've been to me. And drop me a line if you have a particularly good experience with the recipe, or an especially scrumptious idea for a finishing touch. I'd love to hear about how the brats are coming along. Hell, if you're really happy, you can invite me over for the cookout! I can't accept cash for this recipe, of course, but I don't mind at all getting paid in delectable cooked meats. Hell, that's how I got through college! Bon appetit!