The exceptional wieners from Hartmann's Old World Sausages are some of my favorite pork and beef dogs, and are the dogs of choice at Brooklyn's Bark. So on a recent trip up North, I decided to try a few more of the many varieties of German-style sausages that Hartmann's makes. Here are four great ones.
For the tasting, all of the sausages were slow-grilled over live coals and tasted plain, as well as with mustard and sauerkraut in a bun.
The Best: Swiss Brat
The Swiss Brat were by far my favorite sausages of the bunch. Made with snappy pork casings and plump at five to a pound, they've got an incredibly creamy, light texture and mild flavor. The meat is a combination of pork and veal with plenty of eggs and milk added. Spicier and richer in flavor than the Bockwurst, they fall somewhere between a garlicky New York-style beef frank and a mild Weisswurst.
I'd be happy eating this one straight out of a bun, slathered with mustard, or even as a dinner frank with a side of rösti and sauerkraut.
The Mild One: Weisswurst
Big, fat pork and veal sausages in a pork casing that come four to a pound, the Weisswurst are the most mildly flavored of the lot, with plenty of warm spices like cloves and allspice, and a bright splash of lemon juice. Hartmann's calls them the ultimate summer sausage, and I'm inclined to agree. Tender and rich yet snappy, light yet full flavored, they're a fine example of the form.
The Big and the Bold: Knackwurst
Smoky and garlicky, these pork and veal Knackwurst are significantly meatier and firmer than the rest, with a decisive bounce. Knackwurst are known for their crisp, ready-to-pop skin which, as you can see, ended up popping a little prematurely in my case. This does not always happen to me, I swear.
In any case, they remained plenty juicy and snappy even after the casings burst—the mark of a well-made emulsified sausage. Next time I'd go for a heartier bun than the hot dog buns I had on hand. Crusty bread with plenty of mustard and sauerkraut is the way to go.
The Hot Dog Alternative: Bockwurst
Though a traditional Bockwurst is usually spiced with paprika and occasionally smoked, Hartmann's is neither. Rather, it's a pork and veal sausage flavored with white pepper, parsley, and lemon juice stuffed six to a pound in lamb casings, making for an extra-long frank that hangs out enticingly over the ends of the buns. Milder than a normal hot dog with a juicier, more tender texture, they make for a great alternative to add to your normal wiener-fest.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.