Inspired by the amazing Tofurky Beer Brats, I have been on a quest to create a good homemade brat using Isa’s method for making sausages. It took a few attempts to get the spices right, but I think the recipe that follows is pretty solid. I’ve even had a few meat eaters tell me the brats are tasty. Previous attempts were over spiced (particularly with caraway) or too fluffy from over carbonated beer. It’s best to use small amounts of the stronger spices and flat or lightly carbonated beer. Also, in the process I learned fat is key. Although I don’t have any desire to replicate meat grossness, a meat analogue recipe without lots of fat would be like a cake recipe without sugar. What’s the point? Don’t be afraid of the oil and Earth Balance. I actually think this recipe could be improved with a little more of each.
It’s hop harvest time, so I went with a beer brewed with wet hops – fresh from the vine, no drying, right into the kettle. There are several good wet hopped beers out there, but I went with one I find to be exceptionally tasty, Southern Tier Harvest. As a wet-hopped ESB the “grassy” freshness of the hops are front and center, without the harsher bitterness of an IPA. This works well when cooking with beer. More about wet hop beers soon, as I have one of my own fermenting right now.
It’s worth noting, I’ve also found German weizen beers (e.g., Pinkus Hefeweizen) and hoppy beers that aren’t very bitter (e.g., Troegs Pale Ale) work well. Just be sure to let the beer sit out for a while to flatten. Anyway, onto the recipe.
1/2 cup cooked brown/green lentils
1 cup wet hop beer, flat (optional: reserve a few ounces of the bottle to braise greens)
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or tamari)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon melted Earth Balance
Blend the lentils, beer, oil, Bragg’s, liquid smoke and spices together until the lentils are near liquefied. In a separate bowl, mix together the gluten and the nutritional yeast. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients together to form a firm ball. Tear into 6 even pieces, mold into about 4″ long sausages and wrap each in aluminum foil, tightly twisting the ends. Steam for 40 minutes. When the sausages have finished steaming, unwrap and coat in the melted Earth Balance, then grill for a few minutes on each side.
I served this batch with some kale harvested from our garden (braised with a few ounces of the beer) and some grilled corn from our CSA. Also, poured a Dijon mustard-nutritional yeast sauce over the brats (B-12 Tamari Dijon sauce from the Candle Cafe cookbook). Everything paired wonderfully with the beer. Hearty, yet full of flavor from the recently-harvested ingredients. It was Labor Day when I made this meal and it felt appropriate for the unofficial end of summer.