Reading about the people who immigrated to Wisconsin during it’s pioneer years (1800s-1890s) is an interesting read. I’ve come across plenty of factoids that would impress people at cocktail parties. For instance, Wisconsin’s main industry in its early days as a state wasn’t cheese; it was lead and lumber. I touch a little on it, and the rise of the dairy industry in Wisconsin, in this previous post.
Another fun factoid: Irish immigrants were the second largest ethnic group in Wisconsin between 1840 and 1860. The first largest were the Germans, whose legacy of making quality brats and beer lives on to this day.
For more reading about the pioneer years in Wisconsin’s history, I recommend taking a look at A Settler’s Year: Pioneer’s Life Through the Seasons by Kathleen Ernst. The book looks at the life of a settler during the 1800s through one year with photographs taken at Old World Wisconsin.
To commemorate the German and Irish ancestry of Wisconsin’s mid-1800s (and St. Patrick’s Day), please enjoy this recipe combining the culinary expertise of these two groups. This recipe is provided by Klement Sausage Company.
Cheesy Potato and Bratwurst Casserole
- 1 lb. Klement’s Natural Casing Cooked Bratwurst (approx 4 brats)
- 3 c. potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 2 c. milk
- 1/2 lb. Northwoods Cheese Wisconsin cheddar, diced
- 1/2 c. shredded Babcock sharp aged cheddar cheese
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/8 tsp paprika
Boil potatoes until tender. Drain and cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cut bratwurst sausages in half, lengthwise, and then chop into 1/2 inch “half moon” cuts.
Cook in a frying pan until cooked throughout (about 10-15 minutes).
Place cooked potatoes and cooked sausage in 2 quart casserole, and stir.
Combine butter, flour, milk, pasteurized cheese product, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly. Heat until smooth and melted throughout.
Pour cheese sauce mixture over potatoes and sausage. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese and paprika on top.
Place in oven and bake until cheese is golden brown (about 35-45 minutes).