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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Arrange the brats on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over everything, pop on the cover and bring to a boil.
- 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.
- 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.
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This dish is a weeknight pantry/fridge raid with a package of shelf-stable gnocchi providing the starting point.
Potato Gnocchi, Sausage and Spinach
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45
- 1.5 lbs. Italian sweet sausage
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, 1/4″ dice
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- kosher salt
- 2 tsp. Penzeys Mural Of Flavor (see note)
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 lb. potato gnocchi
- 1 6 oz. bag spinach, rinsed and spun
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Place sausages and 1/2 cup water in a lidded skillet and heat over medium. Cook for 5-7 minutes; cook until internal temp reaches 160°F. Set aside.
- Meanwhile heat a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi according to the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain.
- Dump out excess water from the skillet and wipe skillet dry. Return skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer add the onions along with a pinch of kosher salt. Stir to coat and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds or until fragrants. Add the red pepper flakes and spice blend. Stir to incorporate and bloom the spices.
- Add the spinach along with the reserved pasta water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. The spinach will wilt down to less than a cup in volume.
- While the spinach cooks slice the sausages into bite-size pieces.
- When the spinach is fully cooked add the sausages and gnoochi. Toss to combine. Cover and cook long enough to reheat sausages.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Penzeys Mural Of Flavor is one of my favorite spice blends. If you don’t have it you could substitute 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp. ground coriander and 1/4 tsp. dried citrus peel.
I prefer to boil the potato gnocchi for a little longer than the package recommends. In my case the package said 2 minutes in boiling water. At that point they were warmed through but still a little dense for my taste. An extra minute made them a little lighter and less chewy.
When after work energy is low and we want to stay in I reach for staples always have on hand plus whatever is sitting in the produce drawer. Tonight the produce drawer of wonder yielded a poblano pepper.
Chorizo, Chickpeas and Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1 lb. chorizo, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 sm. yellow onion, 1/4″ dice
- 1 poblano pepper, cut lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/4″ strips
- 1 lg. clove garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
- 1 15.5 oz. can low-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1.5 cups white rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
- kosher salt and pepper
- Heat a heavy bottomed dutch oven over high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to the pan and heat until it shimmers. Add the chopped chorizo. Stir to coat with oil and cook for about 5 minutes to render a bit of the delicious red fat. Transfer chorizo to a dish and cover with foil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Check how much fat you have in the pan; if it is less than 1 Tbsp. then add a bit. Add the onions and poblano along with a pinch of kosher salt. Stir and cook until the onions become a bit translucent; about 3 minutes. Add the garlic; stir until aromatic. Add the paprika and stir into the onion, peppers and garlic.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and the rice. Stir the rice into the mixture in the pot. Allow the rice to toast for about 1 minute, give it a good stir and toast the rice again for 1 minute. Do this a couple of more times until the rice starts to turn from white to slightly brown.
- Add the chickpeas and chicken broth. Stir, scrape rice from the sides of the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Check the rice for tenderness. It should be soft and not at all chewy. Cook it a minute or two longer if necessary.
- Return the cooked chorizo to the pan. Stir to combine; season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.
Chorizo is a Portuguese sausage made with paprika. It goes by a variety of spellings – chorizo, chourico, chourizo and variations there of. It can range from mild to hot to blow your ears off. I grew up eating the stuff at my grandmother’s house.
This is a go-to favorite for any of the following reasons – it is rainy/cold/damp, we found some nice kale at the farm stand, we bought interesting sausages from the food co-op, we wanted something that cooks up quickly, we had a bad day, or we just wanted to enjoy it again.
This chicken & sausage came together using a couple of recipes. I used parts Nigella Lawson’s One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage and combined it with some of the technique in the Grilled Lemon Chicken with Rosemary recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
The result was nicely colored meat with a fairly moist interior.
Grilled Chicken and Sausage
Prep time: 75 minutes
Total time: 115 minutes
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup kosher salt
- 3 quarts water
- 12 chicken drumsticks, skin removed, bone-in
- 12 sweet Italian sausage links
- 1 cup olive oil
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- 2 lemons
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- salt & black pepper for seasoning
- Make a brine by combining the sugar and salt in a large bowl or 2-quart cup glass measuring cup. Heat 2 quarts water to a boil and then pour over sugar/salt. Stir until the sugar/salt is dissolved. Add remaining cold water (or ice) to reduce the temp of the brine. The temperature needs to get down to at least room temp before moving on. Colder is better, say 40-50°F.
- Cut 1/2″ slits, about 1/2″ apart, on the both sides of the drumsticks. Transfer to a large bin or zip-top bag. Add the cooled brine and seal. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet or small pan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves one at a time and cook until crisp, about 1 minutes. Transfer the leaves to a double-layer of paper towels to remove some of the excess oil. Allow olive oil to cool.
- Zest and juice the lemons while the chicken brines. Crumble about sage into small pieces. Combine zest, lemon juice, 1/2 the crumbled sage, Worcestershire and Dijon in a small bowl. When oil cools whisk it into the mixture to create an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will be a dressing and basting liquid for the chicken & sausages.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Transfer to a large dish, add the sausage links and add about 1/3 of the lemon/oil dressing. Rub the dressing onto the chicken and sausages.
- Heat gas grill on high for 15 minutes. Clean the grill grates, leave half of the burners at high and turn the rest to low. Lubricate with vegetable oil.
- Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill and arrange the sausages around the drumsticks. Close the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes. Flip the drumsticks and sausages over; brush with with basting liquid. Cover and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes.
- Check the temperature of the chicken and sausages. If it is in the 175°F range then remove it from the grill to a clean dish. If it hasn’t hit 175°F yet turn it over again, baste it once more and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat until all the pieces are cooked through.
- Brush cooked meat with any remaining basting liquid and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- Transfer meat to a serving disk, sprinkle with remaining sage leaves. Serve.
If you have the time and forethought, make the brine the day before, let it cool to room temp and stash it in the fridge overnight.
I served this with some grilled onion segments. Cut peeled onions (top to root) into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. Place the onions in a microwave safe bowl, toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to soften the onions. When you flip the chicken the first time place the onion quarters on the grill. Flip them after 4 minutes. It takes a bit of dexterity however if you leave a bit of root in place they should stay together.