Monday, September 3, 2012

Sweet Pepper Relish and Brat Days Part 3: Sheboygan

It's a bit odd that a lot of people view Labor Day as the close of "grilling season".  Summer may be ending but tailgating season is just kicking off - what better time to fire up the grills?

This weekend I was grilling some Johnsonville Italian Sausage Patties and decided to make a sweet pepper relish for a topping.  This would also work with brats, burgers, and hotdogs at your next tailgate party.  If you want a spicy version, you could just add in some spicier chiles with the bell peppers or increase the amount of red pepper flakes.

Sweet Pepper Relish
servings:  makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 orange bell peppers, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 small can black olive slices
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  1. Place the peppers, onion, and black olives in a food processor and pulse them a few times until the veggies are minced.  See the picture for an example, you don't want to overdo it and turn them into a paste.
  2. Pour about a quart of boiling water onto the veggies and let them steep for 5 minutes.  
  3. In a large saute pan on medium heat, mix together the vinegar, sugar, pepper flake and celery seed until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Drain the veggies and stir them into the vinegar mix.  Simmer until the liquid thickens which should take about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. 
Why cut them if you are using a food processor?  Starting off with smaller, uniform pieces keeps you from pulverizing the black olives while trying to get huge pieces of pepper chopped down.

This is the consistency that you want.

I like to put my relish on the Italian sausage burgers and then top with a slice of provolone cheese.

The Italian sausage burgers already have a flavor party going on, adding the tangy sweet pepper relish made it a flavor riot.  We'll definitely be making this relish a few times during tailgating season for cookouts.  

Brats Days Part 3:  Sheboygan, WI
It's hard to believe that it has already been a month since Alexis and I attended the Brat Days festival courtesy of the folks at Johnsonville.  While the food and entertainment get top billing at events like this, we were also very impressed with the City of Sheboygan.  Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, it is loaded with outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and great people.

"Let's have a fry"
They do have one REALLY ODD regional quirk.  If you are the kind of person that gets bothered when someone refers to a grilling cookout as "a barbecue", then this will really make you nuts...

See the "Give us a Fry" ? 
In and around Sheboygan, grilling brats is referred to as "a fry".  One of the Jaycees said she was confused too the first time she ever heard someone say something like, "My brother is coming over, we're going to get some brats and have a fry." 

People in the South like to think we are the friendliest people around with our "honey", "sweetie", "hey y'all", and our Southern Hospitality.  But the people of Sheboygan are some of the friendliest people we have met.  It seems like everyone greets you in passing.   

We struck up conversations with so many complete strangers that ended up being very interesting people.  For example, some guy made a comment about my camera in passing.  We started talking and turns out he was none other than freshwater surfing icon, Larry "Longboard" Williams.   Dude surfs in winter water temps approaching freezing.....hard core!  We ended up talking about 15 minutes sharing our favorite surfing stories.

Another generalization about Sheboyganites.  Despite their reputation for pounding away beers and brats, I couldn't help but notice there were not a lot of "out of shape" people compared to Tennessee.  Hmmm beer=health food?  I need to look into that.

Alexis with Kevin on the left (who was also our parade car driver earlier in the day).  Sorry for the blurry picture - it was dark, at a concert and there may have been beer involved. 
Life's A Beach
Finally there was the beaches and water scenes.  I didn't realize how pretty this area would be.  Water means a lot of things to do, like fishing, boating, hanging out on the beach, and my personal favorite surfing, when the waves are right.

Lighthouse on the breakwater.

Out on the breakwater looking back at Sheboygan.

We stayed at Blue Harbor Resort.  Never made it to the indoor water park, it was too nice outside!

Blue Harbor Resort at night.

Beach at Blue Harbor

We had such a great time at Brat Days in Sheboygan that we have already decided to go back next year on our own dime as a vacation.  Thank you to Tony and the gang at Johnsonville for inviting us this year and thanks to the Sheboygan Jaycees for being such great hosts! 


  1. I've really enjoyed reading about this whole Sheboygan trip Chris. What a fabulous trip. When I first started blogging, I remember being afraid when referring to using the grill as BBQ'ing or grilling. I've always grilled, but we've got a bunch of people who BBQ around here. And now we throw in this "fry" thing. Love it. By the way, your relish looks fantastic. I'm afraid I'd have to substitute green olives. We love those darn things.

  2. It sounds like you had a great time! Your photos are gorgeous, Chris! Labor Day doesn't mean the end of grilling at my house. My husband and I grill year 'round, weather permitting! The relish looks delicious, Chris!

    Kim in MD

  3. Ooohh... that relish looks fantastic!
    Love the pictures.. thanks for sharing with us.
    And, just between you and me... is there truly an end to grilling season???

  4. I love that last shot of the chair on the beach - AWESOME. It sounds like you had a fun trip!

    The relish sounds excellent - perfect for most sandwiches. Bookmarked.

  5. adding sheboygan to our "potential vacation" list. i had no idea it was so pretty and friendly.

    love the relish. it's hard not to love anything with those great colors!

  6. Yeah, I never quite got that whole "unofficial end of summer" thing either. I guess it's because it's the last major holiday before the next big 2 maybe? Love that relish & love Johnsonville. I have actually been to Sheboygan with one of my beaus from the past, can you believe that from a southern gal who has barely been out of the Deep South? Yep! His dad was actually a butcher back in the day and had a shop there in Sheboygan. I used to have their bratwurst recipe, but somehow misplaced it.

    It was Christmas when we went, but it was mild & we'd just missed the last big snowfall so it wasn't freezing cold either. The weather was gorgeous. According to my ex, beer is pretty central there, everybody pretty much worked in a brewery at some point in their life - he said they even allowed drinking on the job! So that thinness may be due to the consumption of liquid calories versus food calories LOL!! ;) Anyway, you probably didn't get much in the neighborhoods staying in a fancy place like that, but life there is really quite quaint. We stayed at his parents house & I remember feeling like I was in a Norman Rockwell painting!! Loved the accents too, eh?

  7. The dish looks so nice in the picture. I am sure it tastes even better. I really like the platter with beans, grilled chicken and sausages. Looks easy to make and its more then enough for one meal too.

  8. Maybe since everyone in Sheboygan is at the beach all the time, they feel compelled to stay in shape? Or maybe beer has some kind of weight loss effect that no one knows about...although the freshman fifteen would beg to differ.

  9. Found you on Pinterest, of all things the Pimento Mac and Cheese recipe! I'e been reading and reading since I got here! We are avid (rabid) lovers of smoked, bbq'd or grilled and the different places we've lived have made us crave the classics. I am hoping (have my fingers crossed) that you have NC bbq sauce/mop on here. We lived in Wilkesboro after one transfer and I have never been able to make that sauce. It was the one Holly Farms Chicken used for fundraisers. Since you grandparents lived in NC, maybe you have had it? Great blog and I'm copying and pinning everything you have posted!

  10. Joy - I don't have the one Holly Farms Chicken used. The one I have is for the Lisbon (Clarkton) Volunteer Fire Department used for their pork fundraiser every year. You have my curiosity piqued now! I googled and will look a little deeper. My first thought would be it might be a little like roadside or "church" chicken which is more about the spicy, vinegary marinade/splash than a sauce but it sounds like it was more of a true sauce.

  11. Beer as health food? Hmmm...might have to do some research....


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