Ah, bratwurst. The German sausage has been around for a long time – the oldest recorded recipe is from the 15th Century, but it is mentioned in earlier texts. Germany (and Eastern Europe) in particular happened to be the perfect place to develop the sausages over time, because the cold winters and Northern winds were perfect conditions for testing out this cured meat. Historically, it’s also an excellent way to get nutrients into your system, as the sausages were full of parts that would have otherwise gone to waste (including some organ meats!).
Chowders made with bratwurst are popular in the United States, particularly in the Upper Midwest, but they are often full of beer and cheddar. Those aren’t bad things, mind you! But still, I wanted to make a recipe that captured the spirit and richness of those delicious chowders, but with some cleaner ingredients. Turns out a combination of chicken broth, cream, and a little aged cheddar did the trick nicely. I love this chowder in particular because it doesn’t take long to cook – about 45 minutes from start to finish – another benefit of cooking with sausage!
1 lb pre-cooked bratwurst, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 med onion, blended
3 med red potatoes, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 med carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 head cabbage, chopped coarsely
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pinch caraway seeds
1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese (we used Kerrygold Dubliner)
additional salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each)
Like in my Shirred Eggs recipe, I used some US Wellness Meats Natural Smoked Sausage, and they were excellent to cook with – they held their shape nicely and really added some depth to the chowder’s overall taste.
As with most recipes, be sure to chop up everything before you start cooking. I’m terrible at remembering to do this, because I always figure I can chop as I cook – but trust me, it makes for a much less stressful cooking adventure.
I couldn’t fit the cabbage into the above picture, so it gets its own time in the limelight. Okay, moving on.
In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat the butter on medium heat for a minute or two, then add the sausage and blended onion.
Cook down until most of the onion’s liquid has been evaporated, about five minutes, stirring every minute or two.
Add the potatoes, chicken broth, pepper, and caraway seeds, and stir everything together. Once it’s well-mixed, pour in three cups of water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med/low and simmer (uncovered) for five minutes, then add the carrots and simmer for another five minutes. It won’t look especially pretty at this point, but that’s fine. We’ll make up for it later.
Add the cabbage, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Once the cabbage is looking translucent and soft, it’s time to finish off the chowder.
Pour in the cream, wait for it to return to a simmer, then stir in the cheese (leave out a little cheese to sprinkle on top when serving). Once the cheese has been stirred in, remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste (I used an additional 1/2 tsp of each).
Sprinkle a little cheese on top and serve while it’s still piping hot.