August 16th is National Bratwurst Day
Bratwurst may not be one of my favorite foods, but once a year, maybe twice, I will eat a bratwurst. Others simply adore it, and of course, I do not blame them in the least. Really good bratwurst is a treasure to behold. And it has become quite popular in certain sport’s stadiums and arenas.
Back in the days, during the mid-1970’s, I fondly recall a restaurant by the name of Luchos located in downtown NYC when is was at its glory best. Around Christmas time, the workers of Luchos would somehow place what looked like a thirty foot tall Christmas Tree into the center of their restaurant completely decorated with an unlimited amount of gorgeous ornaments and lights.
This over-decorated tree would be somehow stuffed into a small vaulted glass area in the center of this very large restaurant. As a child, I always wondered how the heck did they even get this tree stuffed into the restaurant to begin with, let alone decorate it to the hilt and all the way to the top mind you, when there was barely any room in the restaurant to begin with.
The line to get into this ever so popular restaurant literally went around the corner and down the city street. It would easily take families and people in line at least three hours to get inside the restaurant. You can equate this experience with having the chance to be sitting next to the Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree and eating your favorite bratwurst dinner in all its glory.
The restaurant was partly owned by the Reese Organization, also known during this time as the Reece Brothers, who would ‘give out’ special credit cards once a year to only a select few business people associated with their businesses, i.e. Realtors, Contractors, etc. My father had one of these special credit cards for a short time.
The cards would allow the meals to be comped at any restaurant owned by the Reece Organization, not bad huh?!? The Reece Brothers also owned the restaurants in Madison Square Garden among other famous restaurants. They would later buy up the fast food Roy Rodger chains in NYC among many others. But this story is not about them.
These special gold credit cards though would only be good for one year. Another day I will share with you a story when my father’s partner try to pass on an ‘expired’ card which turned out to be an embarrassing situation. And I am not sure if the Reece Organization still does this sort of thing still, I highly doubt it very much.
As people sat around the tree and in other rooms of the restaurant, a musical group dressed in fashionable German costumes would proudly prance about with their musical instruments and play traditional Germanic songs while people stuffed themselves with over-sized plates of bratwurst at its best.
I only was at this restaurant one time, but the one time experience left a huge impact on me. As we walked passed all the people in line, then into the restaurant, passing another long line for at least another 40 feet we arrived at the Maitre’d’s podium. My father showed the card, and off we sat at a table right next to the tree. I was of course slightly ashamed when I realized how we snuck by all the people who were waiting for their turn to sit down at this wonderful restaurant, and maybe this is why I am not a big bratwurst fan.
By putting my Chef Maven’s bratwurst’s history experience aside, here is one of the more popular ways to cook bratwurst the next time you are thinking of something different, Yah?, Yah!
- good quality bratwurst – 1 or 2 per person depending upon size
- good quality beer of your choice, mixing beers is good too.
- 1 large onion sliced
- large pot on top of stove filled with at least four beers and added water to cover bratwurst
- pre-heated grill
- Place bratwurst into pot, add beer, sliced onion and additional water to cover bratwurst.
- Turn on heat, and allow liquid to begin to boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, longer than that is even better.
- Once time is up, remove bratwurst and if you should so desire, slice them in half lengthwise and place on pre-heated grill, turning them over to brown up on all sides.
- Serve on rolls, by themselves with kicked up mustard, along with sauteed onions.
Let me know how some of you make your bratwurst, I am sure you have great ideas too! Let’s hear ’em!
As a side note, I believe it was in the early 80’s when the Luchos restaurant moved uptown in NYC. It has never once been able to reclaim their status of the 60s and 70’s, like many restaurants which move from their original spots – sometimes change is not a good thing.