Milk-Can Supper

I heard about Milk Can Supper on the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcast in June 2014. It is a one pot meal, which I dig for efficiency sake, and it sounded intriguing. Basically you layer red potatoes, cabbage, corn on the cob, carrots, onion and bratwurst in a large pot and use a pale colored beer as the steaming liquid. I gave it a go and the results were delicious. I’ve made it, or parts of it, several times since with a couple of variations.

I use our 20-quart stock pot when I make this for a crowd. If I’ve halving it then I leave out the cabbage and cook it in the dutch oven we use for stews and tomato sauce.

Give this a try sometime. You won’t be sorry.

Milk-Can Supper
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour


  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst (15 sausages)
  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes, unpeeled, rinsed
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 6 ears corn, cleaned and cut in half
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 12 oz. bottle light ale
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ squares


  1. Cut brats in half. Heat the oil in the stock pot over medium heat. Working in batches, brown brats, about 2 minutes on each side. Set browned brats aside. Drain the oil from the pot.
  2. Dump the potatoes into the pot. Cover these with the quartered cabbage followed by the corn, carrots and onions. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Tuck the bay leaves and thyme springs in among the vegetables.
  3. Arrange the brats on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over everything, pop on the cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; you want to see a bit of steam come out when you take off the lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You can temp the sausages if you are worries they aren’t cooked through (160°F being the magic number). I try to stab a potato and a carrot to make sure they aren’t still hard.
  5. If you have a big enough bowl or platter you can carefully dump everything into it. For a large group I prefer to separate out the sausages, corn and cabbages (which I cut into smaller pieces after cooking) into separate bowls. The potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers end up together in another bowl. This allows the food to be passed around the table more quickly. I try to put at least some of the cooking liquid into a measuring cup to pass as well.

The original recipe calls for a “light-bodied American lager, such as Budweiser”. I’m a bit of a beer snob and don’t have Bud in the house nor will I buy it just for the recipe. I’ve used Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale in the past and most recently I used Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Both worked well. Use what you enjoy.

As I suggested in the intro, this recipe can pretty easily be halved if you aren’t serving a mob. I leave out the cabbage, reduce the rest of the ingredients by half except the amount of beer. How many sausages you cook is really up to you. I’d go for at least 10 (that’s 2 packs were I shop). I honestly should just increase the number of sausages to 20 for the full recipe; they are the best part.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions

This recipe was inspired by the brats we enjoyed as part of the Milk-Can Supper we enjoyed a few months back. I think the result was very tasty and I’ll certainly make brats this way again.

Beer Steamed Bratwurst with Onions
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25-30 inutes


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst
  • 2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 1 12 oz. bottle ale


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add about half of the brats and brown on all sides. Transfer to a dish and repeat with the remaining brats.Cut the brats in half and set aside.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and place a collapsible steamer basket in the bottom of the pot. Spread the onions on the steamer basket. Layer the halved brats over the onions. Pour the beer over everything.
  3. Cover the pot and return it to medium heat until the beer begins producing steam. Reduce the heat to low and steam the brats for 15 minutes.
  4. Check the temp. of the brats. If they’ve reached 160°F in the middle then they are good to go. If not cook for another minute or 2.
  5. Serve brats with the steamed onions in a bun, on a plate, with mustard or with what ever your heart desires.

I had lack of burners the night I made these so I cooked them to 155°F, dumped the brats and onions in a oven-safe dish, added a bit of the beer broth, covered it with foil and tossed it in the oven set to “keep warm (which is ~250°F for me). When dinner was ready 30 minutes later these were all set and ready to go.

Guinness-braised Pork Shoulder

After searching the Internet for recipes and/or inspiration I came up with this recipe for a braised pork shoulder. There’s nothing fancy here however it came out quite tasty and was a hit.

One key, to any braise, is a pot large enough to hold your meat on which the lid will sit properly. This traps the liquid in the pot and helps cook the meat in a moist environment. I have a Calphalon dutch oven I picked up a decade ago that works well, especially for larger pieces of meat like this pork shoulder. We also have a Le Creuset that works great.

Guinness-braised Pork Shoulder
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 3.5 hours


  • 7.5 lbs. bone-in pork shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 bottle Guinness or other stout (12 oz.)
  • 12 oz. water (just use the Guinness bottle)
  • 1 onion, skin removed and halved top-to-root
  • 2 carrots, topped and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 3″ pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 Tbsp. black peppercorns, crushed
  • 6 juniper berries, crushed


  1. Remove all racks from the oven except one and place it in the lowest rack location. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Pat the pork shoulder dry and trim off any excess fat. Rub it with a generous amount of kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the pork shoulder in the dutch oven, searing each side of the meat. This took me 15-20 minutes total.
  4. Transfer the pork to a plate and add the Guinness to the pan. Scrap up any bits of meat that have stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients. Return the pork to the dutch oven and nestle it among the vegetables. The liquid will probably only come about 1/2 way up the meat; don’t sweat it.
  5. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the dutch oven and move it to the oven. Cook for around 3 hours, turning the meat over every hour.
  6. Other than turning the meat just ignore it. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk. At around 2.5 hours check the temperature of the pork, making sure to avoid the bone. You want the internal temp. to hit around 160°F. Check a few spot to make sure the pork is fully cooked.
  7. Remove the pork from the oven and place the pan on a heat-safe surface like a cooking rack. Transfer the pork to a cutting board to rest for at least 15 minutes; cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  8. Taste the cooking liquid. If it is flavorful and not overly salty you can serve it with the meat. Remove the vegetables; they’ve given their all and really aren’t worth serving with the meat. Strain the cooking liquid to remove the spices. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.
  9. When the meat has rested you can try slicing the meat. That didn’t work for me so I just pulled chunks of meat off the bone. I cut the bigger chunks into slices. Arrange the meat on a platter; pour a little of the cooking liquid over the top if you decided to use it. Enjoy.

One frustration I have when following a recipe is that you can never find the same size piece of meat the author recommends. So ignore the size and try to get the same type. In this case you want a medium size bone-in pork shoulder. If the one you get is much less than 6 lbs. then you’ll probably need less liquid. Have a bit of the Guinness (or I suppose you could leave out some of the water).

You can go with a boneless pork shoulder if you want however I don’t think the end product will be quite so tasty. Bones provide a lot of flavor, even in a moist cooking method like this.

I think I’ve sung the praises of the Oxo Fat Separator before. If you like to cook braises and you don’t have one I think you are working too hard. The built in strainer catches the odds and ends of spices. Let it sit a few minutes and the fat rises to the top. So much easier than skimming fat off with a spoon.

Final note… in an ideal world I could have made this the day before, let it cool and refrigerated it overnight. I then could have easily sliced it and reheated it with the strained cooking liquid. I’ve never managed to find the time to do that however it sounds lovely. 🙂