All about the Wurst: Bockwurst

Pair of sausages with potato salad and mustard in plate on white background
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Germany is sausage country. They love their Wurst and you can find it on almost every Speisekarte (menu) - no matter how fancy the restaurant. Sausage is for sell with street vendors, at imbiss and every biergarten. But what German sausage is the Wurst?

Bockwurst is one of the most popular varieties of German sausage. To many Americans it simply looks like a curved hot dog.

It traditionally consists of veal and pork, although modern varieties may include poultry like turkey or chicken.

In northern Germany, some Bockwurst varieties include fish. Seasoning consists of salt, white pepper and paprika with the addition of herbs like chives and parsley. The sausage may also be lightly smoked.

History of Bockwurst

There are two theories about the origin story of this sausage. 

The birth of Bockwurst is obviously murky. The first rather simple story places the Bockwurst in Bavaria in 1827.  

The second, much more detailed tale, states that the Bockwurst is a Berlin invention. It may have been created by a Kneipe (bar) owner in Kreuzberg, Robert Scholtz, and a Friedrichstrasse butcher, Benjamin Loewenthal, in 1889. Loewenthal was Jewish and insisted the Wurst be veal and beef - not pork - to be Kosher. Served with bratkartoffel and gravy at a party commemorating the end of the winter semester at Humboldt University, the light, white sausage was a hit. Served with tasty Templehofer Bock, a dark beer, it earned the name of Bockwurst.

Word of the “Bockwurst Scholtz” spread from the south east of Berlin to all of Germany and beyond. It can now be found past the German borders and in everyday American supermarkets.

The bar where the sausage was first served has undergone numerous changes, but is still open today and serves "Is mir wurscht...

", or the "Traditionell Scholtz“ with mustard and bread. The bar, now known as Kraus, estimates that it has served over a million Bockwurst. For just 3.80 euro you can own a piece of sausage history. 

Whichever is the true story, the Bockwurst is here to stay as a German favorite. As the saying goes,

Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei.

(Everything has an ending, but the sausage has two).

Bockwurst for Lent

Bockwurst are particularly associated with Lent, or Fastenzeit. This, like its name, is due to the Bock Beir. A strong, heavy beer, it is drunk primarily during the fasting season and the lighter sausage still pairs perfectly with the beer.

Bockwurst Pairings & Recipes

Over time, the heavy sausage, potatoes and gravy combo changed to a (somewhat) lighter, midday meal. Bockwurst is now usually eaten with a Brötchen (roll) and spicy Bautzen mustard.

The sausage is usually simmered or grilled, giving an appetizing darker hue or grill marks. Boiling is not the best way to cook it as the casing may split and then you have a broken sausage.

How to Prepare a Bockwurst

Braised Bockwurst - Place sausages in a cast iron skillet with a little water and a drizzle of oil. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium as you turn the sausage to grill all sides.

Once the water has evaporated and the sausage has browned, it should be cooked through. You know it is right when you take a bite and the crisp skin almost cracks upon opening, revealing the juicy meat within.

And, of course, serve it with a Bock beer.