I had Monday off for President’s Day – it was a lovely, much needed mini-break from the world. Kramer and I tried to make the most of our extra day; we ate some great tacos at our favorite Mexican place, La Superior on Friday, then just hung out at home and installed some light fixtures kitchen on Saturday. On Sunday, we met up with our friend Eric and he took us out to Sheepshead Bay for some traditional Uzbeki food at Nargis Cafe. It was delicious and unbelievably cheap. We had so much food that we could barely finish everything on the table (but we mostly managed). It was definitely worth the train ride out there, and I honestly can’t wait to go back or to go try more places like it. It was fun to get out of the city for a while, too. On Monday, we made a big breakfast at our place, hung up some posters that we got framed (such as this awesome Star Wars set – I only have a low-quality photo of them for now), and watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was completely different than I expected it to be. I was really surprised how much I liked it and how wrong I was to initially think it was going to be just about how cool Banksy is. If you get a chance, definitely check it out. It’s nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this year, and with good reason.
This is one of the first meals that I made in our new apartment, and I had to break in the new Staub pots that my Aunt Donna was generous enough to give to Kramer and I for our housewarming gift. Aren’t they adorable? I absolutely love them. I had recently picked up some bratwursts, and after watching an episode of this most recent season of Top Chef, I was inspired by a take on sausage and peppers that Mike Isabella made for Jimmy Fallon’s birthday. It just looked like good, classic comfort food, and Kramer and I were looking for that after spending all day moving and re-arranging our new place. I cooked it all in a cast iron skillet for a good crispiness on the outside of the brats, while still being able to caramelize the vegetables. I used shallots instead of onions, but onions would work well here, too. I also used mini sweet bell peppers that I had, which were very good, but again, regular bell peppers work well, too. I made sure to use a bit of German beer to cook the shallots in for some depth of flavor, some mushrooms, because I had them and I would put mushrooms in almost everything if I could, then finished cooking the brats in with the vegetables so that they would release their juices and develop a nice sauce for a richer taste. You can eat these on a roll as a sandwich or in a bowl on its own; it is a really flavorful, hearty meal that can be put together fairly quickly and is sure to please all types of palates.
Melt a tablespoon of butter in your pan over medium-high heat.
When the butter is foaming, add in the brats. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are nice and browned on both sides.
When they’re ready, take them out of the pan and place them on a separate plate. You don’t want them to be fully cooked just yet, so just let them sit for now.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and deglaze your pan with 1/2 cup of beer, making sure to scrape up all the browned bits.
Add in your thinly sliced shallots and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add in your thinly sliced bell peppers and cook everything for another 8 minutes or so, until caramelized.
Add in the garlic when you’re ready. I like my garlic thinly sliced, but you can mince it, too, if you like. Cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.
Place everything in a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel as best you can and reduce your heat to medium-low.
When you wash mushrooms, you generally just want to clean them with a damp cloth instead of running them under water. When you run them under water, it takes away a lot of their delicate flavor.
Slice the mushrooms thinly.
And add them to the dry pan. Mushrooms release a lot of liquid as they are cooked, so when you first put them in a hot pan, you don’t want to have added any oil or butter just yet. Let them brown for 2-3 minutes, first. You will notice how nicely they cook all on their own.
After they have browned, you can add a tablespoon of butter to them and cook for another minute or two, until some of the butter has been absorbed by the mushrooms.
Add the pepper mixture back to the pan with the mushrooms.
Thinly slice your brats and add them to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the brats have cooked through, and season with salt, pepper, and/or red pepper flakes.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 bratwursts
- ½ cup German beer
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 5 small sweet bell peppers (or 2 regular bell peppers), thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1 pint mushrooms, thinly sliced
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- fresh basil, sliced thinly (for garnish)
- 4 rolls, for serving (optional)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large skillet or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is foaming, add in the bratwursts and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Do not cook them completely through - you want them to cook more later along with the shallots and peppers. Remove the brats from the pan and set aside on a separate plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and deglaze the pan with the beer - make sure you scrape up all the good, browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add a splash or two more if you are so inclined. Add in the thinly sliced shallots, saute for about 5 minutes, then add in the thinly sliced bell peppers. Continue to saute until caramelized, about 8 more minutes over medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Remove the mixture from the pan, place it in a separate bowl, and wipe down the pan with a paper towel.
- Add the thinly sliced mushrooms to the dry skillet. Mushrooms release their own juices as they cook, so they should not be cooked in butter and/or oil from the start. Make sure that the mushrooms aren't too crowded in the pan, either - cook them in batches, if need be. The mushrooms will begin to brown and soften after a few minutes over medium heat. When they've started to brown, add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and gently saute. When the mushrooms have absorbed some of the butter and are nice and golden, add the shallots, peppers, and garlic back to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Thinly slice the brats that you have set aside and add them to the pan. They should still be a bit pink in the middle when you add them to the pan, but as they cook, they will release their juices and really develop the flavor of the whole dish. Cook over medium heat until the brats are cooked through. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper if you like, along with the red pepper flakes. Sprinkle with a bit of fresh basil. Serve in bowls or as a sandwich.