Brats, Hot Dogs & Barbecue: How to Cook Like a Midwesterner

The Midwest features a delicious mix of mouthwatering foods influenced by a past rich in varying European cultures. The Midwest does sausage, hot dogs and barbecue particularly well and serves them up with served an unusual array of toppings. Before the cold sets in and cooking outdoors is no longer an option ... who are we kidding? Midwesterners cook outdoors year round! Learning to cook like a Midwesterner means understanding these traditional recipes and exactly how natives cook them.

Brats, Wisconsin Style

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Wisconsinites have an affinity for bratwurst thanks to its German heritage, and they love to cook brats outside on the grill. To cook Wisconsin-style brats, first prick the sausages with a fork and combine with one sliced onion and 6 cups of lager-style beer in a midsize pot. Simmer everything until the brats are firmly cooked through. Then sear another sliced onion and two green, red (or a combination of both) bell peppers in hot oil in a saute pan. Add the brats to the pan and continue to cook for five minutes, tossing and mixing frequently. At popular attractions like Wisconsin Dells, it's tradition to serve brats on a round roll with spicy brown mustard.

Hot Dogs, Chicago Style

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Chicago is famous for hot dogs unlike any other you'll ever taste. To make a Chicago-style dog, charbroil an all-beef Vienna brand hot dog. Place it on a poppy seed bun, and add two slices of tomato, one whole, dill pickle spear, chopped onions (or grilled and seared onions), yellow mustard, green relish and sport peppers. Sport peppers are a special kind of pepper pickled in a brine solution. You'll find them at your grocery store in the canned foods section.

Easy to make and worth the effort of gathering all those ingredients, these unique dogs tantalize taste buds with an explosion of flavors. Just beware, once you bite into one of these dogs you'll never go back to a plain old American hot dog again.

Barbecue, KC Style

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While Chicago holds the patent on dogs, Kansas City is renowned for barbecue. In Kansas City they cook their pork slow with a tasty rub of dry spices, and then paint on generous helpings of barbecue sauce. Start by removing the rind from ribs by pulling it free by hand. Smother the ribs with a Kansas City-style barbecue rub found at your local grocery store, or make it yourself. Next, get the grill ready. Light your coals in a chimney and then place them into a smoker. Maintain a temperature of 220 degrees, and add hickory wood for smoke flavor.

Add your ribs to the smoker and douse them with apple juice every hour or so for about three hours. Wrap foil around your ribs and continue to slow cook for another two hours, then remove. Cover the ribs in barbecue sauce, and serve with coleslaw, beans and fries. It's melt-in-your mouth deliciousness.

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