Not going to lie. I’m mildly obsessed with fall. It’s my favorite season. I may or may not have mentioned this in pretty much all of our posts since the beginning of October. Since this is our first fall in South Carolina, I’m learning that fall comes slowly down here. It’s halfway through the month; the majority of the leaves are still green and we’ve hit the upper 80s several days this week! Ho hum. But fall peeks through now and then. We’ve carved some pumpkins. We’ve made and eaten chili. I’ve worn jeans a few times (albeit with short sleeve tops and sandals…) There are decorative gourds topping every surface in our house. Our neighbors are rockin’ some Halloween window decorations and fake spiderwebs. And best of all, we’ve turned off the A/C and had the windows open for several days!!
So when thinking about making some brats for dinner tonight, I logically wondered how I could make them “fall brats.” Because the traditional and perennially delicious, grilled, topped with mustard, peppers, and onions, tailgate brats apparently don’t scream fall loudly enough for me? (Could have something to do with the fact that we don’t have a grill…)
Peeking in the fridge/brainstorming, I noticed a bottle of my favorite cider.
[Side note: if you have access to Bold Rock cider, you should check it out. They distribute pretty much only in the Mid-Atlantic. As of today, you can find Bold Rock ciders in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. They have a variety of ciders for your tasting pleasure. My personal favorites are the Virginia Apple, which is a bit more tart, thanks to its origins as a Granny Smith apple, and their drier, champange-style ciders. And if you want to make an amazing and low-key road trip out of it, you should check out their Cider Barn in Nelson County, Virginia. It’s a gorgeous (especially in the fall!) and fun place to visit. Even better, you can combine your visit there with a trip to one of the many wineries and breweries in the area! (In all seriousness, if you want some suggestions of places to check out in the area, we love pointing people in the direction of our favorites!) End side note.]
Deciding to combine my favorite, quintessentially fall cider with these brats was an interesting experiment. I wanted the sweetness of the cider, but didn’t want to ruin the brats with a cloying sweetness. Hence the other ingredients. I think it worked out pretty well. For me, it definitely was a new, sweeter flavor profile. It’s interesting that there is still a strong “meaty” taste and smell, that is countered with the sweetness of apple cider. I think the other new and interesting part of the dish for me was the texture of the brats themselves. I’ve never had brats any way other than fresh off a grill or sauteed in a pan. They’re essentially braised in the crockpot, which gives them a softer texture, without that tautness you would normally feel biting through the sausage.
Slow Cooker Cider Brats
- 5 large bratwursts
- 1/2 of a large onion, sliced
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 12 baby carrots
- 12oz bottle of hard apple cider
- 12oz bottle of ginger beer
- 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 turns of black pepper
- Place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the bratwursts.
- In a bowl, combine the ingredients from cider through black pepper. Whisk a few times to combine.
- Pour liquid over top of brats & veggies in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- Serve however you’d like! Throw the brats and veggies on a bun like a traditional brat or serve them with a little bit of the liquid over top rice or lentils like we did. (I wasn’t really intending the liquid to be a “sauce,” which it’s not, but I enjoyed topping my bowl off with a bit of it.)