Don't poke your brats--it dries the them out and you lose flavor. Also--the butter is optional-it tends to soften the texture. If you like a firmer texture--less or no butter. If the brat casing is breaking open before you grill you are probably boiling too vigorously--turn down the heat and cook them more slowly at a low simmer instead of a full boil. In Wisconsin, some people grill the brats and then put then in the beer mixture in a Nesco or slow-cooker. This is great for a party where you have to feed a lot of people and don't want to man the grill all day. We prefer the flavor of boiling (carefully) first and then grilling--but on the 4th of July when we have 100 hungry people over who show up at all different times--grilling first and throwing the brats in the beer mixture in a Nesco works perfectly--they still taste great. If your grocery store carries Johnsonville brats they are very good and seem to be spreading around the country as my sister in California is able to buy them at her local grocery. My very favorite, however, are Usingers in Milwaukee. They are available on the web at Usingers.com.
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Don't poke your brats--it dries the them out and you lose flavor. Also--the butter is...