Bavarian Brathaus Truck (Cary, NC)

I like sausage as much as the next guy, or maybe I don’t, because I’ve never been a big bratwurst fan.  I think it’s because I’m wary of eating huge portions of fatty meat in one sitting.  I like sausage occasionally, and in smaller quantities – sprinkled on a pizza, say, or in a taco or omelette – rather than as a bulky inflated hot dog.  I do love biscuits with sausage gravy, but a biscuit with a big sausage patty is usually just about all that I  can handle.

Still, when I met my wife over at the Cary Whole Foods for lunch one day recently, I was drawn to the Bavarian Brathaus truck parked outside.  They were offering homemade bratwurst on a pretzel roll with mustard and sauerkraut for just $5.  They also had goulash and potato salad for sale, but I figured (correctly) that the sandwich alone would be enough to fill me up, making for a cheap lunch.

The good news was that the sausage itself was not fatty at all; in fact it was surprisingly light.   It reminded me somewhat of a chicken or a turkey sausage, and I wish now that I had inquired about the types of meat(s) in it.  The bad news was that the overall experience was a bit lifeless.  The meat was remarkably mild and flavorless, and the bun was fresh but lacked some essential pretzel-ness.  The sauerkraut was similarly dull; really the only thing that brought flavor to the sandwich was the zingy horseradish-mustard (a flavor that I don’t particularly care for).  I don’t know how they do bratwurst in Germany, and this one wasn’t bad, but it was a little disappointing.  About 2/3 of the way through the sandwich, I removed the sausage and substituted some of my wife’s peppery chicken (from the Whole Foods hot bar).  Not being a huge sausage guy, it was more satisfying that way.

Buttermilk Biscuits

When I was growing up, every weekend my dad would make breakfast.  The repertoire was limited but satisfying: pancakes, waffles, French toast (occasionally), or biscuits.  I recall liking all of them (as I still do) and a cooked breakfast always feels like a decadent affair after a week’s worth of cheerios-and-milk, granola and yogurt, or toast with cream cheese and honey.  So, with a bottle of creamy buttermilk in the refrigerator, I decided it was time to work on my biscuit craft.  This weekend, to start with, I pulled out “The Joy of Cooking”, because the recipe was guaranteed not just to be there, but to be simple as well.  And it was certainly easy.  I decided to make monstrous, restaurant-size versions, and within thirty minutes I had these piping hot fluffy biscuits (pictured above) on the table.  To go along with them, I whipped up a simple sausage gravy (cook meat, add flour to create a roux, add milk or cream, cook until thick, season).  They were delicious with the gravy or with some honey, but I have to admit, a hot biscuit with butter and a little jam can be deeply satisfying.  In fact, that was the best of all – just like dad used to make.

The recipe follows:

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

5 tbsp butter

2/3 – 3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in butter.  Add buttermilk and stir until dough just holds together.  Transfer to a floured surface, gather dough, and flatten to desired thickness.  Cut out circles (I used a glass).  Bake at 450°F for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

Note: Keep the fatty ingredients cold and don’t work the dough too much.  You can brush the tops with milk, cream, or melted butter prior to baking for a nice finish.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with these in the future, playing with the recipe to adjust the sugar or salt or to incorporate lard, for example.

Weekend Recipes

It was a weekend of good food at my house:

Blackberry-mascarpone puff pastry treats

Pear-taleggio-local honey panini on Yellow Dog Bread rustic multigrain with farmer’s market sweet white corn on the cob

Buttermilk biscuits with local organic maple sausage gravy

Homemade pizzas including taleggio-mushroom-caramelized onion-rosemary (one of the greatest pizza topping combinations ever) and spinach-garden tomato-feta-basil

Cantaloupe sorbet (courtesy of Matt & Tanya Andrews)