Chef Daniel Kill of Paulaner, a German restaurant and brewery on New York City’s Lower East Side, will choose bratwurst over any sausage, any day. Dishing out four kinds of sausages, Kill, a Bavarian native, keeps it traditional at Paulaner. The restaurant also boasts a variety of beloved Bavarian classics like spätzle, crispy pork knuckles, venison goulash and three types of mustard (Händlmaier’s sweet mustard, the “Rolls-Royce of sweet mustard,” is specially imported). Kill also teaches sausage-making classes at Paulaner, so we asked him what we should know when it comes to these links.
1) Fat content is key.
Kill says a good sausage will have meat and fat well incorporated. The sausages at Paulaner range from 20 to 40 percent fat. Kill says he prefers to use fattier cuts of meat, like pork butt and lamb shoulder, in his sausages. When necessary, Kill will add lardo.
2) Not all meat is cut out for sausages.
Kill doesn’t recommend using tenderloin and shank meat when making sausages. “Shin meat, especially beef, is a great meat for a stew, but there are too many veins and it’s a little tough, especially for the grinder,” he says.
3) Keep things cool.
As always when grinding meat, you want to make sure the meat is cold. Kill suggests freezing meat for 30 to 40 minutes before grinding. The cold meat will pass through the grinder with more ease. Working with cold meat also ensures that the fat won’t separate when ground, which would result in dryness.
4) Weisswürste is part of a nutritious Bavarian breakfast.
“Weisswürste” translates to “white sausage,” is traditionally made of a pork and veal mixture, steamed or poached and served in a bowl of water with a pretzel, sweet mustard and a glass of hefeweizen beer in the morning. According to Kill, there’s a popular saying in Bavaria that goes “The weisswürste should not hear the 12 o’clock bell ringing.” Before modern refrigeration, butchers in Bavaria had no way of preserving the weisswürste they made early in the morning, so they would have to sell the sausages before church bells rung noon. Kill says some restaurants today still uphold the tradition and won’t sell weisswürste in the afternoon.
5) Bavaria’s casing game is strong.
In Bavaria, there are two types of pork casings: thick and thin. The thinner casings are used for bratwursts and other sausages, while the thicker casings are used for weisswürste. Because the breakfast sausage’s casing is thicker, it’s not normally eaten like a regular sausage. To traditionally eat a weisswürste, one cuts the sausage in half and squeezes the meat out of the casing. Kill says you can sauté the thick casing afterward to eat, but since the sausage is steamed, the casing doesn’t get tender and is often too chewy to eat. All the sausages served at Paulaner are made with pork casings, with the exception of the weisswürste, which gets a thicker beef casing.