PANAMA CITY — It should be no surprise gourmet cook and German native Hannelore Holland knows how to cook a good brat.
During October, you can stop in Somethin’s Cookin’ for a lunch special of bratwurst, one or two, served with Holland’s homemade version of a cold German potato salad.
“I put ranch dressing and bacon in it, because your German potato salads always have bacon in them,” Holland said.
This is the second year for Somethin’s Cookin’ to serve the popular special, which I stopped in to try last Wednesday. I sat at the counter as Holland boiled the Boar’s Head bratwurst, then cut three slits on each side of a brat before turning it in a shallow dish of milk.
“This prevents the bratwurst from bursting,” said Holland, always thinking about the next step — searing. “Instead of turning in milk, my personal preference, some put it in beer.”
She showed me a couple of German beers, Erdinger and Tucher, she carries in her gourmet cooking shop and bistro.
“I also like to serve it with caramelized onions. I think the caramelized onions make it,” said Holland, who had a customer request extra onions earlier in the day.
She heated a tablespoon of butter in a grill pan and then added the brat to sear on each side.
“Use half a stick for four brats,” Holland said. “My grandmother used to do it like this, always on a pan indoors. We didn’t grill out in Germany back then.”
In another pan, she added her thinly sliced onions, which can be sliced in a Cuisinart or cut by hand, to brown slowly in a tablespoon of melted butter.
“I also like to add a pinch of sugar to mine,” she said.
Holland made a small bed of sauerkraut on the plate, then topped it with the steaming bratwurst and finished it off with crispy sautéed onions and drippings from the grill pan. In a small dish, Holland added Hengstenberg Medium Hot Mustard for dipping.
“This can be served with mashed potatoes or potato salad,” Holland said as she added some of her potato salad to the platter. She then grabbed a pretzel roll and sprinkled it with a pinch of Fleur de Sel before adding a fresh edible orchid for presentation.
As I cut into the tender, juicy bratwurst, I forgot all about the dipping mustard. The skin was slightly crisp on the outside — not burnt, yet cooked through. The onions were crispy and delicious.
I was glad I hadn’t waited any longer, because by 1:30 p.m., they had run out of bratwurst for the day.
The creamy potato salad has become my new favorite version of German potato salad. With sauerkraut on the plate, I didn’t miss the vinegar-based version. As my portions grew smaller, I took the brat for a dip in the surprisingly mild mustard. The slightly sweet and salty pretzel rolls — baked that morning — rounded out the combination of textures and flavors on the plate.
2 tablespoons butter
Milk or beer
Quarter of small white onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
To cook bratwurst: Boil precooked bratwurst for 10 minutes, raw for 20 minutes. Soak brat in milk or beer. Cut three slits on each side and sear in grill pan until browned on both sides.
To caramelize onions: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add a pinch of sugar and sauté onions in pan until browned.
To plate: Put small scoop of sauerkraut on platter, then top it with brat and crispy onions. Pour some drippings from pan on top of the brat. Serve with side of mustard and a scoop of mashed potatoes or potato salad.
Makes 1 small serving.