For Brats With Better Color, Sear Them Before They Hit The Slow Cooker

Slow-cooked seared bratwurst on plate
Slow-cooked seared bratwurst on plate - Michelle McGlinn/ Tasting Table

Cooking dinner in a slow cooker is a surefire way to make a delicious meal with little effort and even fewer dishes to wash. That goes for many recipes, including slow-cooker bratwurst with onions, potatoes, and cabbage. Slow cooking keeps these tasty sausages tender while amplifying the flavor with aromatics like onion and liquids such as beer. But there's one essential step to locking in the flavor of the sausages before you switch on the slow cooker: Searing the brats.

There are a couple of advantages to searing bratwurst in a pan before they go into the slow cooker. First, it will give them an appealing golden-brown color so they're more aesthetically pleasing when it's time to serve. Our slow-cooker beer brats recipe developer Michelle McGlinn says, "I highly recommend searing the brats first so they are golden brown and slightly charred," and continues, "Brats are otherwise gray when cooked in liquid."

Perhaps even more importantly, searing the sausages also gives them deeper flavor thanks to the caramelization process. And it will also give them a crunchy skin to hold up to the liquids they'll be slow cooking in for hours. This ensures a good contrast of textures in your finished dish, too.

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Searing Bratwursts Before Slow Cooking

Bratwursts and vegetables in slow cooker
Bratwursts and vegetables in slow cooker - Michelle McGlinn/ Tasting Table

To be clear, searing doesn't involve cooking the bratwursts thoroughly. It's simply a method of cooking food at a high temperature to brown the outside. Your brats will continue cooking right through in the slow cooker, so don't overdo the sear. Before you put them in the pan, avoid cutting the outsides, because that would release a lot of the juices and lead to dry brats. To sear the brats properly, heat oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, sear the sausages for about three minutes, then turn and sear the other side for another three minutes. You'll know they're done searing when the skins have reached a golden brown.

Once your brats are seared, move them to the slow cooker. Every recipe is different, but you'll use liquids like broth or beer, seasonings and aromatics like bay leaves, and vegetables such as cabbage or potatoes. Your slow cooker should be on the low setting to give the sausages and other ingredients a chance to soak up flavor and become tender. The key is not rushing it, so you must be patient because the cooking time will be up to eight hours, according to our recipe. The brats are cooked thoroughly when they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.