By Mike Thayer
That's what I'm into today, some brats! I've tried pretty much all of them, Johnsonville, local butcher, various grocery store brands and today, I'm grilling up some brats made by Kirkland, the store brand of Costco.
As tasty as these things are, I'm actually kind of surprised that brats aren't more popular in restaurants, specifically burger and hot dog joints. I'll take a juicy brat fresh off the grill over a burger or dawg just about any day of the week. When brats are done right, you don't even need a bun, that's how good they are!
I've grilled brats for family, friends, at parties, at company functions. I've prepared brats with beer, wine, my own secret parboil recipe and I've smoked them over a variety of woods.
Today's preparation is putting the brats in the smoker over pecan wood. This is my favorite preparation and there's no parboiling required, this preparation is that good. Beer brats are good, wine brats are better, but smoked brats..... Smoked brats my friends, is THE best way to have them and pecan wood is a perfect pairing!
I've used this particular preparation using the various brands of brats and Kirkland comes out on top. They're better than Johnsonville, they're better than the local butcher shop, they're better than the typical grocery store brand. In my book, the Kirkland recipe is the best of all I've sampled.
With each bite you get the perfect snap of that casing, the juiciness, that perfect blend of spices and that hint of smoke complimenting it all.
Not only does Kirkland have the better recipe, they make bigger links. These are quarter pounders, that's 4 ounces each in case you didn't want to do the math. Most other brands weigh in between 3.2 and 3.8 ounces per link. That may not sound like much of a difference but it's actually quite noticeable when you put the final product on the bun. Lesser brands also have more shrinkage and casings that more easily split during the cooking process.
Costing just under $17 for 14 links, or $1.21 each, Kirkland brats cost a bit more than other brands. In comparison, a package of Johnsonville brats typically run about $4.99 for 5 links, or $1 each, but you're getting an inferior product. The Kirkland's are worth the slightly higher price, in each and every bite.
I'm giving Kirkland brats 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. There may be a better brat out there, but I haven't found it yet.