German Bratwurst Apple Slaw
When I was in 5th grade, my next-door neighbor Mary and I decided we were going to go to sleep-away camp over the summer. We'd seen camp in movies and it looked like fun, so we picked a two-week-long German language camp at St. John's University in St. Cloud, MN.
As an 11-year-old, I was at my most awkward during this summer. I definitely had one long eyebrow. I wore a lot of oversized E.N.U.F and B.U.M Equipment t-shirts with jorts. I was kinda chubby (chubby in the way that happens to pre-teen girls right before they get their first period — because nature is cruel). But I also didn't give AF, because I was 11 and kids don't give AF about shit like this until they turn 12.
This would be the point that it might be natural tell you I learned how to make this cabbage-apple-bratwurst slaw at German language camp, but I totally didn't. I did learn some other important things though!
Things I learned at German language camp:
- A lot of German language, apparently. I was cast as Snow White in the play that we performed for all the parents on the last day of camp AND YES I AM TOTALLY BRAGGING ABOUT IT (I had so many lines! In German!). 12-year-old me would've been too embarrassed to perform in a play, let alone be the lead in a play. And 33-year-old me can barely say anything in German anymore. All that brain space is taken up by romance languages and emojis now.
- High diving platforms are terrifying. The camp was at a college, so there was a big indoor pool that we went to when we got rained out at the lake one day. It had one of those super tall, concrete diving platforms. Olympians do handstands on them and then flip around a million times on the way down. Of course, peer pressure ensured that everyone took turns jumping off the high dive. Me? I climbed up. And then I climbed down.
- I have a doppelgänger. (Oh, another German word I still know!) Mary and I had a roommate named Stephanie and she showed up wearing the exact same E.N.U.F American flag t-shirt that I was wearing and also we looked SO much alike —enuf that we could trick just about anybody, Parent Trap-style.
- Pig roasts are wunderbar. I didn't know roasting whole animals was a thing that regular people did until the last day of camp when all the parents came... to watch me perform as Snow White, obvs.
Okay-okay, camp stories over.
You came here for the food, so let's talk about this German-inspired hot salad. Yes, I said hot salad. Trust me, it's a thing.
I've made variations of this slaw many times before, with chorizo or bacon or whatever I have on hand (even deli turkey meat sometimes when I'm desperate). This version with brats has a very special place in my heart because I went to college in Wisconsin, where brats (GLORIOUS BRATS!) reign supreme.
I don't know about you, but I'm also a huge fan of sweet and savory dishes like this. Apples, onions and pork are a dream food combination, in my book.
German Bratwurst Apple Slaw
gluten-free, Whole30, paleo recipe | serves 4+
- 1 lb. bratwurst, casings removed
- 2 small apples, diced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bag of the Trader Joe's Cruciferous Crunch Collection (10 oz), which is a kale-red cabbage-brussels sprouts medley (or y'know, chop up the non-TJ equivalent)
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- optional: 1 T maple syrup
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- optional: 1/4 cup sauerkraut
- salt, to taste
- Brown the bratwurst meat in a large pan or Dutch oven and set aside in a medium-sized bowl. There will be a lot of grease from the pork, so spoon off about 3/4 of the drippings into a small bowl and set that aside too.
- In the same pot, fry the red onion until very tender (caramelized even!). When the onion is nearly done, stir in the apples and cook for another few minutes. Add a pinch of salt. I like the apples to maintain a bit of a crunch, but it's up to you how long to cook them. When they are to your liking, spoon it all out into the sausage bowl.
- Pour the reserved drippings back into the pan and then add the greens. Sauté until the greens are wilted, stirring occasionally. This doesn't take too long. Add the sausage, apple and onions back to the pan to heat up.
- While it's cooking, whisk up the dressing (Dijon mustard + apple cider vinegar + maple syrup + caraway seeds + a pinch of salt).
- Turn the heat off, add the sauerkraut (optional) and dressing to the pan. Toss to coat and serve hot.
- If you want more greens in this business, this dish can easily take even double the amount of chopped cabbage, kale and shaved Brussels sprouts without changing the amounts of apples, onions or sausage. Sounds crazy, but it's true. However, you will want to whisk up some additional dressing if you make a bigger batch.
- Check the brat labels if you're trying to avoid weird things like corn syrup and whatnot (brats are notoriously full of strange). Or better yet, make your own bratwurst-y sausage mixture.
- This recipe is paleo, gluten-free and low-carb. Hold the syrup and it's Whole30-friendly too!