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Tailgating with Johnsonville

Posted by Dave On October - 22 - 2014

Johnsonville Logo Small
If you have been reading this tailgating blog for any length of time, you know that we we here at Tailgating Ideas love Johnsonville Sausages. Bonus points to you as a reader if you recognize that Brandon is usually the one to blog about Johnsonville and tailgating. We thought we would mix it up a bit and I would pinch hit for Brandon and do a review of tailgating with Johnsonville.

The beauty of the three meal tailgate, you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner all in the parking lot, is rare and magical. Much like a beautiful unicorn gently drinking from a meadow stream, the three meal tailgate is one to behold and cherish but is also elusive. With that in mind, Johnsonville has you covered no matter if you tailgate for just a few hours or all day.

Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast SausageStarting off with the most important meal of the day, we brought two kinds of breakfast sausage from Johnsonville to the parking lot. We picked up some Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages and the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages. The Johnsonville Fully Cooked Sausages are just that, fully cooked. You could eat them right out of the package if you wanted to. We chose to warm them up on the grill a little bit before serving.

The directions on the package indicate that you can warm them up in the microwave, four at a time for about 30 seconds, and they will be perfectly warmed up and taste just like you took them out of the pan or off the grill. We couldn’t help ourselves and tried a few Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages at home in the microwave before taking them out to the parking lot. Warming them in the microwave was super convenient and they tasted fantastic. For those tailgaters that have an RV, I would highly suggest grabbing a few packages of the fully cooked versions for your next tailgate that includes a morning meal.

Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage

We then moved onto the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages. These we placed directly on the grill and cooked them as if they were smaller and thinner hot dogs. Most people like to fry breakfast sausages in a pan, but when out tailgating, your grill will suffice just fine. Just make sure to grill the sausages lengthwise going across the grill grates and you won’t lose any to a firey death below the grill grates.

These sausages once grilled to perfection were also excellent. Tasted just like the sausages you remember from growing up and the flavor was outstanding. Comfort food at its finest right there in a parking lot. We coupled our breakfast sausages with some scrambled eggs prepared on the Sizzle-Q right on the grill and we were having breakfast while tailgating before we even set up the TV to catch the early NFL games.

Unfortunately, the game we attended was an afternoon kick off so we didn’t get to have a three meal tailgate. A two meal tailgate will have to do as a suitable replacement. The lunch menu was more Johnsonville. This time it was the Johnsonville Bacon and Cheddar Grillers.

JOHNSONVILLE SAUSAGE, LLC CHEDDAR CHEESE AND BACON

If you are unfamiliar with Johnsonville Grillers, I would highly encourage you to read Brandon’s review of the Bacon and Cheddar Grillers and the Mushroom and Swiss Grillers. If you skip those previous reviews, basically Johnsonville Grillers are Johnsonville’s famous brats recipe in the shape of a burger. And with the Grillers, they not only fit nicely on a hamburger bun, but they include additional flavors that would normally be considered a topping.

We went with the bacon and cheddar grillers because, come on, how can you go wrong with either bacon or cheddar? Combine the two into that famous Johnsonville taste, and you have a tailgating goldmine.

The Grillers were, as you might expect, excellent in all ways. Blame it on my German heritage and upbringing, but whenever I have a brat, it needs to be accompanied by either some brown mustard and/or sauerkraut. Or both. At this past tailgate, I went with both.

Sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard can sometimes overpower the flavor of the meat so you need to understand the right portion in order to not let one flavor dominate all the others. We built the perfect Griller and with the very first bite, we could taste the cheddar and bacon coming through. Although coming up with bacon and cheddar to infuse into a burger patty filled with bratwurst borders on genius, we are thankful that someone at Johnsonville came up with it.

All in all, the Johnsonville tailgate was a huge success. The only detractor was that we didn’t have enough time before kick off to enjoy the Johnsonvilles all day and for three meals. After tailgating all day with this grub, we are going to declare the Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausages, the Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausages and the Johnsonville Bacon and Cheddar Grillers, all “Tailgate Approved”.

To learn more about Johnsonville products, you can visit their website at www.johnsonville.com.  They also have a pretty active social media presence on Twitter @JvilleGrilling and on Facebook.

The Oostburger

Posted by Brandon On September - 21 - 2014

You might have seen that they other day was National Cheeseburger day.  Being the carnivorous creature that I am, I made sure to grab one to celebrate.   Which I was chomping away I couldn’t help but think back to another cheeseburger I had a while back.  You see every year the good people of Sheboygan, WI throw a festival to celebrate their state’s official food, the Bratwurst.   Well our friends at Johnsonville invited my wife and I to check out the festival last year and engage in the brat love.  Needless to say we had an absolute blast seeing just how much they embrace the brat and all the cool ways they’re using them in different types of cuisine.  For example we saw brat pizza, chimichangas, tacos, gyros, etc.  For the purists you could also enjoy a single or double brat on a local Sheboygan Hard Roll.  We also took in some of the local lingo such as a brat fry, or fry out, which seems to be the preferred local lingo for a cookout or bbq.  Heck, we even saw a guy eat 20 brats in 10 minutes.  If you have the chance to go next August I highly recommend it.   Side note: I don’t advocate eating 20 brats that quickly, you probably should stop at 10.

johnsonville1

Getting back to the cheeseburger theme, among the foods that we had a chance to try was the Oostburger.  I can only imagine the name for this particular creation is based on the neighboring town of Oostburg.   As I observed at Brat Days the Oostburger is basically not much more than a cheeseburger with a brat on top of it.  Sounds kind of strange, but it really adds a neat dimension to the burger, and it’s such a simple concept. The variation in texture, and the richness of the sausage work together to impart a new burger experience.  I liked it so much that I thought I would try and recreate it, as hard as putting a cylindrical brat on a flat burger is, to share with those outside of us outside Cheese Head territory.Oostburgerwhole

To make your own it’s important to start by finding yourself a nice bun to put this on.  Since I’m unable to find the hard roll that they use in the Sheboygan area, I’m going to use a Kaiser because it’s about the closest thing I can find here in NC.  A typical hamburger bun is probably going to be a little wimpy for what we’re trying to accomplish.   What you want is a bun with a nice crusty outside, but is still plenty soft on the inside.

When you’re at the grill you’ve got to consider that the brat and the burger are in all likelihood not going to be done at the same time.  So what can you do about it? Well you can time things out so they’ll finish about the same time, or even cook one part and then keep it warm while the other finishes. Personally, I like the idea of using a “brat hot tub” which I initially wrote about in my “Brat Test” article.  Basically the brat hot tub is not much more than a warm mixture of beer some butter, onion, and garlic, in a pan.  Cook up your brats and then toss em in to keep em warm and juicy. If you’ve got the real estate on the grill for this technique I would highly recommend it.  I suppose you could use a bratwurst patty for these sort of copying the whole double burger thing, but I think using the link in the casing is more fun.

Since the star of this burger is most definitely the brat you don’t need to go super gourmet and get some Wagyu patties for this, but you don’t want to bring it down by getting the super cheap mystery meat frozen patties either.  I like a fresh 80/20 ground chuck for my “everyday” burgers.  This fat content should ideally keep the meat juicy enough, and lend just the right amount of beef flavor.  However with beef prices being what they are today feel free to use whatever you like, just try to stay away from the super lean stuff unless you need to.IMG_20130920_190235

What I did was to grill my brats to almost done and then move them away from the direct heat, since I was doing these on a smaller grill I had to skip the hot tub.  I threw on my burger patties and then cooked them to my desired doneness.  Once the burgers were just about there I added 2 slices of Wisconsin sharp cheddar to each pattie. When the cheese was melted I pulled all the meat to let it rest for a few.  While the protein was resting I toasted the buns a little.  I think it works well to split the brat, if for no other reason than ease of eating, before placing on the burger but you don’t have to.  Top with a little brown mustard and sliced onion and you’ve got yourself an Oostburger.   Of course you could add whatever you like to yours, but simpler is better.

Here is a more specific recipe:

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground chuck
1 pack good quality Bratwurst (We like Johnsonville obviously)
5 Kaiser Rolls (Or you could use Sheboygan Hard Rolls if you have a source)
10 slices Sharp Wisconsin Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste.

1.) Set up a grill for direct heat, and preheat a grill to Medium.IMG_20130920_191215
2.) Form 5 patties from the ground chuck, trying to get the diameter as close to the buns as possible.  They’ll be thin, but that’s what we want. Season with salt and pepper.  I only ended up with 4 because I’m a bone head, but aim for 5 if you can.  It’ll make for a better 1:1 with your brats.
3.) Slice rolls completely in half so you have a top and bottom.
4.) Grill meats until done.  ~15-20 minutes for brats, ~10 for burgers.  When the burger patties are nearly done top with 2 slices cheese.
5.) When meat is cooked pull off heat, and toast buns on grill.  This will go quick, no more than  30 seconds should do.  Remember you can always toast more, but once you’ve gotten to burnt you’re screwed.
6.) Slice brats lengthwise.
7.) Place burger pattie on bun, top with sliced brat.
8.) Add desired condiments
9.) Enjoy

 

 

Johnsonville – Make the Best of the Wurst Tailgate

Posted by Brandon On January - 31 - 2014

As much as we love them, sports tend to come with their frustrations.  Being a fan of some franchises that haven’t  seen championship glory in a few years, if at all, this is nothing new for me. However I can say with some amount of pride, that my Buffalo Bills did not finish dead last this year.  That unenviable distinction went to the Houston Texans.

Even though their team fell short of expectations, Texans fans were still rewarded for their loyalty when Johnsonville’s Big Taste Grill showed up at a local shopping mall for one last tailgate party.   If there was ever a silver lining to be had from such a miserable season, the arrival of a tractor trailer size grill loaded with premier sausage would definitely be it.  If that wasn’t enough donations were accepted for a local charity that specializes in helping people who have fallen on hard times.

Below you can see a couple of pictures from the event, and you can click here and here for some videos that the local news station produced.   After those be sure to check out a super easy recipe that I found on Johnsonville‘s page for a sandwich that should be right at home for whatever festivities you may be planning for this weekend’s big game.

 

Reuben Brat Hoagie

(Originally found at http://www.johnsonville.com/recipe/reuben-brat-hoagie.html)

What you need

  • 1 package (19 ounces) JOHNSONVILLE® Original Bratwurst
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/3 cup Thousand Island salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup coarse ground mustard
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) French bread
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sauerkraut, drained
  • 12 slicesSwiss cheese, thinly sliced

Preparation

  • 1 Grill brats according to package directions. When cool enough to handle, cut into ¼-inch bias slices.
  • 2 In a skillet, sauté onion in butter until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine salad dressing and mustard.
  • 3 Slice French bread lengthwise and transfer to a baking sheet.
  • 4 Spread salad dressing mixture on the inside of bread. Layer bottom of bread with six slices of cheese, brats, onions, sauerkraut and cheese.
  • 5 Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cut hoagie and serve hot.

Johnsonville Meatballs and Sausage Slices

Posted by Brandon On December - 10 - 2013

It’s been a little while since our last Johnsonville post, but I’m excited to share a review of a couple of their new products. I’ve long been a fan of precooked food when it comes to tailgating, because there are so many things that could go wrong with raw food. Luckily Johnsonville has added several new precooked offerings to their already stellar stable of products.

johnsonville-logo

Disclaimer: We were given samples of the Johnsonville Meatball and Sausage Slices free of charge. This in no way affected our evaluation of the product, nor did it affect the objectivity of this review.

One of my favorite things about testing these new products for Johnsonville is that when they’re released they always have a lot of recipes to try them in. The new meatballs and sausage slices were no different. However sometimes I like to put my own spin on things, which is precisely what I did with this review.

 

mild-italian-sausage-slicesThe first of the two products I tested was the “Mild Italian Sausage Slices.” As you might have guessed from the name, these are simply slices of italian sausage. While there are a few things you could do with these I decided to try them on a pizza. I found them super easy to use for this purpose, just grab them from the freezer and top the pie, and my results were quite nice. While I made this particular pizza in my home oven, it could easily be done on the grill. The sausage itself was surprisingly juicy considering it had been cooked, frozen, and then baked in the oven, all while maintaining a pleasant flavor.  If mild sausage isn’t your scene, they also offer a hot and spicy variety.

 

3-cheese-italian-style-meatballs

The next products I tried were the “Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs.” For these I decided to make something on the grill, and the best thing that came to mind was a meatball sub. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for these, but they turned out great just the same.   Even after grilling them a little to add some additional flavor they were still plenty moist for being precooked. Now what you need to know about these is that they’re made from pork, which is probably different than what you would expect. As such they have an entirely different texture and taste than similar products made from beef. Not a negative to the product, more of an FYI. If “Three Cheese” isn’t your scene they also offer “Classic Italian” and “Homestyle” which I’m sure are equally as good.

Based on my findings, I’m going to deem the Johnsonville Meatball and Sausage Slices “Tailgate Approved.” I think they’d be a welcome addition to any tailgate menu and, even as we near the end of the football season, they would be equally welcome as part of your indoor gameday spread. These products are gluten free, and are made to the same quality standards that you would expect of a company like Johnsonville.

To learn more about the product you can visit the product page here.  I would also encourage all Johnsonville fans to check out their social media sites for the latest news, tips, and contests.  You can find their Twitter pages @JvilleGrilling  and @JvilleKitchens.  Their Facebook pages are here and here, and a personal favorite of mine is their Instagram page.

Johnsonville Brat Poppers and Music Video Contest

Posted by Brandon On July - 29 - 2013

If you’ve been watching Johnsonville’s social media pages and/or their Big Taste Grill blog, which is written by the team traveling with the grill, you have probably seen their take on a jalapeno popper. Since they hooked me up with some of their smoked brats to play around with I decided to give this recipe a go.

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What makes these different from other poppers I’ve tried is that instead of a creamy cheesy filling they have diced up smoked brats in them. What you end up with is a really meaty popper that could almost serve as a meal in itself. Katie, my official taste tester/wife, had some and seemed to like them pretty well so I think I can safely recommend them to you all.

Brat Poppers
(Taken from Johnsonville.com)

What you need

  • 18 Jalapeno peppers
  • 1 package (14 ounces) JOHNSONVILLE® Smoked Brats
  • 1 package (16 ounces) bacon, cut into thirds
  1. Using a sharp knife, slice 1/4 inch off the stem end of the peppers, discard the stem.
  2. Using a small knife or vegetable peeler, remove seeds and spines of the peppers, discard.
  3. Dice the sausages into small pieces and stuff the peppers with the sausage.
  4. Cover the sausage with a 1/3 strip of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  5. Grill the brat bullets over medium heat until evenly roasted and the bacon is crisp.

I also wanted to take the opportunity to let you all know about a contest that Johnsonville is running. They’re calling on all grillmasters to produce their version of a music video entitled “Don’t Pierce the Brat.” I’ve embedded their version below so you can hear the song. The winner will get $5,000 and a year supply of Johnsonville Brats. For more info you can go here to get the tools you’ll need and to see the official rules.  Looks like the deadline for submission is August, 30.  We would love to see your videos if you do make one.

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About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.

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