I was gifted a bottle of Secret Stadium Sauce by my discussion forum friend Jim Lampe when we met up for a Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training game in Arizona in March 2020…right before all hell broke loose with the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re a Brewers fan and have attended games at Miller Park or the old Milwaukee County Stadium, you know all about Secret Stadium Sauce. You may even have a bottle of it lurking somewhere in your refrigerator. The story goes that one day back in the early 1970s, the ballpark food vendor was running out of ketchup and mustard, so they took what little they had left and mixed it into barbecue sauce, added a few spices and other ingredients, and Secret Stadium Sauce was born and has been a fan favorite ever since.
I’d never heard of this sauce, but had a chance to try it on a grilled hot dog at the spring training ballpark in Arizona. It tastes like a tomato-based barbecue sauce but with unique spices. Jim uses Secret Stadium Sauce plus beer as a bath for grilled bratwurst and shared his method in a post on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board. I decided to follow his lead with my bottle of sauce.
Video: Brats In Secret Stadium Sauce
This video demonstrates the steps for making brats in Secret Stadium Sauce as described in this article.
To make these brats you’ll need:
- 1 package fresh uncooked Wisconsin brats, whatever brand/flavor you like
- 1 bottle Secret Stadium Sauce
- 1 12-ounce bottle Wisconsin beer
- 1 package Wisconsin cheddar cheese slices, medium or sharp
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 white onion
- 1 package brat-appropriate rolls
Johnsonville makes a wide variety of brats, some plain, some flavored with beer, some mixed with cheese, some very spicy! Choose a brat flavor that appeals to you. I chose their Beer Brat since I was doing a sauce/beer bath. Beer on beer flavor, how could you go wrong?
For the beer, I went with Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers since 1903.
The brats need a bathtub that’s big enough to hold all the ingredients, but small enough to fit on the grill and keep the brats submerged in the liquid and veggies. A half size steam table disposable aluminum foil pan works well.
Rinse the peppers and dry them. Cut off the top and bottom, remove the stem and seed pod, then cut down one side and open the pepper flat.
Cut into two sections, then cut off the internal ribs from each piece. Repeat with the second pepper. The result is four flat sections of pepper.
Cut the onion in half lengthwise. You’ll notice in the photo that I cut off the top of the onion. Don’t do that. The onion will hold together better during grilling if you leave the top intact.
Spray both sides of the peppers and the cut side of the onion halves with non-stick cooking spray. If meat tends to stick to your cooking grates, give both sides of the brats a quick spray, too.
Grill The Brats & Veggies
Note: Grilling the veggies is an optional step that makes good use of the grill and adds flavor. If you skip grilling the veggies, just slice them as shown below in “Cut Up The Veggies”.
Preheat your Weber gas grill on MEDIUM for 10 minutes. Clean the grates with a grill brush then turn the burners down to MEDIUM-LOW.
Place the brats on one side of the grill, the peppers and onion on the other. Cook the brats 10-15 minutes until nicely browned on both sides, to an internal temperature of 160°F measured with an instant-read thermometer.
Grill the pepper sections to get some char on both sides and for the onion just on the cut side, maybe 8-10 minutes. It may help to use both tongs and a spatula to lift the onion, as the segments begin to loosen as the onion cooks.
Take care when handling the pepper sections, they can fall through the grate…or so I’m told.
Cut Up The Veggies
Slice the grilled pepper sections into strips and the tops/bottoms into bite-sized pieces. Cut off the top of the onion, discard the outer papery layers, and cut crosswise into half rings 1/4″ – 3/8″ wide.
Time For A Brat Bath
Place the grilled veggies in the foil pan, add the entire bottle of Secret Stadium Sauce, and add half a bottle of beer. Stir to combine, then nestle the grilled brats into the bath. Add a little more beer to increase the depth of the bath, if needed.
Turn the burns to LOW and simmer the brats in the bath until the peppers and onions are tender to your liking, about 30-40 minutes. Give the brats a spin and stir the veggies every so often during the process.
Assemble & Enjoy
Arrange 1-2 slices of cheddar cheese on a roll, add a brat, top with the peppers and onions, and drizzle with additional sauce. Enjoy immediately!
Special thanks to my buddy Jim Lampe for the bottle of Secret Stadium Sauce and for the post on The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board that inspired me to give this a try.