Our first stop in The Meat-ting Place’s new Around the World series is Germany, home of Oktoberfest.
The 182nd Oktoberfest is now in full swing in Munich. The festival traditionally starts on the third weekend in September and ends the first Sunday of October.
The Oktoberfest is currently the largest festival in the world, and it began with a Royal Wedding on 12 October 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig, later to become King Ludwig I, was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were renamed Theresienwiese (“Therese’s Fields”) to honour the Crown Princess, although the locals have since abbreviated the name simply to “Wiesn”. Horse races in the presence of the royal family marked the close of the event that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria. The decision to repeat the horse races in subsequent years gave rise to the tradition of Oktoberfest.
In 1896 the beer stands were replaced by the first beer tents and halls set up by the enterprising landlords with the backing of the breweries. The remainder of the festival site was taken up by a fun-fair.
The Oktoberfest celebrated its 200th Anniversary in 2010. Only Wars and cholera epidemics have briefly interrupted the yearly beer celebration.
Besides beer, Oktoberfest requires one main essential: wurst
German wurst, or sausage, comes in two basic categories:
Fresh sausages— This includes sausages that are uncooked and ones that are cooked once but need recooking or reheating. Most are made of raw pork, veal or beef, bacon or ham, egg, pickling salt and spices, and are then cooked in water and sometimes lightly smoked. Some are made of cooked ingredients which are then cooked a second time after being stuffed into links, and may also be smoked. Fresh bratwurst is one type of raw sausage that that needs full cooking. Fresh sausages that come cooked but need reheating include knockwurst and wieners. Fresh sausages, both raw and cooked, need to be kept refrigerated.
Slicing and spreading sausages— These are ready to eat, cold cut-style sausages. They are fully cured. Some are firm and are best sliced, but there are also soft sausages made for spreading. Liverwurst is one category of spreadable sausage and must contain at least 30 percent pork liver.
Types of Wurst
Weisswurst is the traditional sausage served at “Weisn” — as the locals call Oktoberfest — but dozens of other wursts are also served.
Almost all wurst features pork (and sometimes beef or veal), spices, and peppercorns, but the other ingredients make each wurst distinctive. More than a thousand varieties of wurst exist, some being available everywhere and others are local specialties. Here are a few of them:
- Bierschinken— a large slicing sausage with chunks of ham and pistachios
- Bierwurst— coarse-textured slicing sausage flavoured with juniper berries and cardamom
- Blutwurst— blood sausage, which comes in many varieties; it is eaten sliced and cold or fried like black pudding
- Bockwurst— smoked and scalded, usually made from finely ground veal; spiced with chives and parsley; resembles a large frankfurter; gently heat in liquid before eating; traditionally served with Bock beer, especially in the spring
- Bratwurst— a pale, smoked sausage made of finely minced veal, pork, ginger, nutmeg and other spices; usually comes raw and must be cooked, but pre-cooked bratwurst is also available (reheat before serving)
- Braunschweiger— a spreadable smoked liver sausage enriched with eggs and milk; the most well known of the liverwurst sausages
- Cervelat— similar to Italian salami, a slicing sausage of pork and beef, spices and often mustard or garlic; Thuringer is a common variety of German cervelat
- Frankfurter— the genuine German variety (not the same as an American frankfurter) contains finely chopped lean pork with a bit of salted bacon fat, and is smoked; reheat in simmering liquid
- Knockwurst; knackwurst— a short, plump smoked sausage needing poaching or grilling; contains finely minced lean pork, beef, spices and, notably, garlic; often served with sauerkraut
- Wienerwurst— believed to be the origin of American frankfurter; beef and pork flavoured with coriander and garlic
- Weisswurst— German for “white sausage” and is very pale and delicately flavoured; made of veal, sometimes beef and pork, cream and eggs; a specialty of Munich and traditionally served at Oktoberfest with rye bread, sweet mustard and of course, beer.
Ready to celebrate Oktoberfest at home?
Oktoberfest is celebrated in countries all over the world. Why not host an authentic German feast and get into the Oktoberfest spirit?!
It’s time to brush up on your wurst cooking skills and arrange the accompaniments!
Sausage Cooking Tips
- Cook fresh sausages over gentle heat so the interior fully cooks.
- Sausages can be steamed, simmered, fired or grilled, or a combination of methods.
- Before cooking, prick the skins to prevent bursting.
- Reheat sausages in hot water, but avoid boiling them as their skins will split.
- Onions in the cooking liquid add flavour to sausages.
- Parboil fresh sausages in water or beer before grilling or frying.
- Beer adds a stronger flavour than water. Malt-heavy beers add sweetness and are good for strongly flavoured sausage. Lagers add a slight bitterness and complement sweeter style sausages.
- To heat cooked fresh sausage, bring a pan of water or beer to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the sausages and cover for 10 to 15 minutes.
What to serve with your wurst?
Mustards: sweet, hot, spicy, coarse and smooth; set out a variety of mustards to complement the wide range of sausages.
Breads can be soft rolls; dense rye or black breads; caraway, poppy seed, and other seeded breads and rolls; sour doughs and whole grain breads; and hot, soft pretzels (especially good with mustard).
Don’t forget the sauerkraut; if you don’t make your own, pick up a bag of sauerkraut in the refrigerator case at the supermarket—it tastes fresher and crisper than the canned variety. Perk up the flavour with a pinch of lightly toasted caraway seeds.
Authentic German beer, of course, is the drink of choice. Oktoberfest style beers are amber coloured, sweet, very malty and traditionally the first beers of the season. Weissbier is the perfect complement to Weisswurst, as its lighter body and flavour won’t overpower the delicately seasoned sausage.
Recipes for an Authentic German Oktoberfest
Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Pretzels not only taste good, they also look good especially when you decorate your Oktoberfest table with them.
1 package of active dry yeast
1/8 cup warm water (40 degrees C)
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/3 cup of sugar
5 cups flour
Water, baking soda
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Dissolve yeast in 1/8 cup warm water. Stir in 1 1/3 cups warm water, 1/3 cup brown sugar and flour. Beat until smooth. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Heat oven to 250 degrees C. In a saucepan, measure 2 teaspoons baking soda to each cup of water. Place enough to fill the saucepan. Boil soda and water.
Tear off some dough and roll a pencil shape with your hands. Pick up both ends, cross to form rabbit ears and then twist the ends and pull them back to the rest of the loop.
Place twisted pretzels in water/baking soda mixture for 15 seconds until the pretzel dough is golden or yellow in colour. Then remove the pretzels from boiling water and place onto a salted cookie sheet.
Salt the top of pretzels with course ground sea salt. Place cookie sheet with pretzels into the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until pretzel is golden brown.
For meat lovers: Add cubed bacon while kneading the dough and bake together until pretzel is golden brown.
For cheese lovers: Do not salt the pretzels, but place a layer of German butter cheese or Bavarian Emmental on top and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cheese will turn golden brown.
Honey Mustard Dip:
5 oz Crème Fraiche
3 tablespoons German honey
2 tablespoons German mustard
Salt and sugar to taste
Stir Crème Fraiche, honey and mustard until creamy. Add sugar and salt to taste.
Hofbraeuhaus Beer Basted Knackwurst with Onions and Hot Mustard
8 sausages, such as bratwurst, knackwurst or wieners
120ml Oktoberfest beer
60g hot Dusseldorf mustard
2 tbsp. brown sugar
85g canola oil
450g yellow onion, peeled, quartered and sliced very thin
Pierce the skin of the bratwurst with a fork.
Grill sausages for approximately 8 minutes until “just about” done.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter into a pot over medium heat until butter is soft. Add sausages and Oktoberfest beer. Cover and let simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes to 1 hour. The beer flavour will be stronger the longer you keep in the pot. The bratwurst will finish cooking during this step.
As the bratwursts are simmering, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter into a saucepan with onion. Cook until the onions are clear. Once the onions are clear, add the brown sugar and mix with the onions. Take off heat before the brown sugar is added.
Serve with hot Düsseldorf mustard on a bun with a bottle of Oktoberfest beer.
Sausage and Sauerkraut Phyllo Turnovers
(Würstchen & Sauerkraut-Taschen)
Phyllo pastry is very similar to German Strudel pastry and can be used in the same ways. These savoury snacks can be prepared ahead and baked just before serving so they are warm and crisp.
4 large sheets phyllo dough (10 x 12 inches)
80g butter, melted
2 Bratwurst or Bockwurst sausages, grilled and chopped
280g Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
80g Bavarian smoked cheese, cut in small cubes
Cut the phyllo sheets lengthwise into three. Keep them covered under a sheet of cling film as you work so they won’t dry out.
Lay a strip along a board. Brush lightly with melted butter. Put a heaped teaspoon of Sauerkraut at one corner end. Press some chopped sausage on top, then 3 to 4 cheese cubes.
Fold over the filling wrapped in the phyllo on the diagonal, so it is completely enclosed in a triangle. Then flip over again, on the diagonal, and again and again until you get to the end of the phyllo strip and have a neat triangular turnover.
Place on a flat baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until you have 12 turnovers. Brush the tops and sides with the remaining butter.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm.
Potato Pancakes with 3 Toppings
Serve these cakes warm.
Serves: 16-20 pancakes
8 cups (loosely packed) frozen shredded potatoes
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Toppings (recipes below)
Combine potatoes, beaten eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir well, until flour is no longer visible. Heat 2-3cms of vegetable oil in a large skillet, and use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop three piles of potato mixture into hot oil. Let fry on medium-high heat about until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn cakes and press down with a spatula, flattening them as much as possible. Fry until golden brown, and remove onto paper towels. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Serve pancakes immediately, or store refrigerated until ready to serve, and reheat in a 180 degrees C oven for 10 minutes.
Black Forest Ham & Sauerkraut
Combine 2 cups sauerkraut in white wine, drained, and 4 slices of Black Forest ham, sliced into strips. Add 3 tablespoons light olive oil and 1 teaspoon sweet mustard. Add 1 teaspoon fresh thyme. Stir gently and serve.
Smoked Salmon & Spicy Crème Fraiche
Combine 170g smoked salmon, 1 finely diced large scallion (green/spring onion), 1/4 cup crème fraiche, 1 tablespoon creamy horseradish, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill. Stir gently and serve.
Combine 3 tablespoons German curry ketchup, 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce, and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar in a saucepan. Add the shredded meat of 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm throughout.
Creamy Sauerkraut with Chives
In this recipe, tangy sauerkraut is tempered with creamy crème fraîche. This side dish will complement roasted chicken or pan-fried pork chops, and also makes a tasty baked potato topping.
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups drained German sauerkraut with caraway seeds
1/2 cup crème fraîche, room temperature
2 tablespoons minced chives
Heat oil in a saucepan. Add sauerkraut and stir. Turn heat to low and cover; cook until sauerkraut is hot throughout. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and stir in crème fraiche and minced chives. Serve.
Braised Pork with Horseradish Sauce
Serve this savoury treat with hearty, whole-wheat German bread. This is a succulent, rich treat that’s perfect as a small-plate portion.
Serves: 12 (tasting portions)
4 230g pork belly squares
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium celery root, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 large white onions, trimmed and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 cups red wine
4 cups veal stock
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons horseradish
Up to 1/3 cup cornstarch
Marinate pork in garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves and thyme for 8 to 12 hours. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Heat oil and brown pork on high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven, working in batches if necessary to brown all pieces well on all sides. Reduce heat to medium; add celery root, carrots, onion and brown sugar, and sauté, letting vegetables and pork caramelise. Add red wine to pot and simmer until reduced by half. Add stock, and cover with foil.
Transfer to oven and roast about 2 hours, until sauce is thickened and pork is fully cooked and able to shred easily. Meanwhile, stir together sour cream and horseradish.
Strain liquid from pot into a saucepan. Add a touch of water to 1/3 cup cornstarch to make a slurry. Add half to slurry to liquid and bring to a boil, whisking. Add more slurry if necessary to thicken.
To serve, place some vegetables on each plate, and top with a piece of pork. Top and surround with sauce, and add a spoonful of horseradish cream. Garnish with thyme if desired.
Schnitzel in Creamy Mushroom Sauce with Alb-Gold Beer Stein Noodles
Breaded pork cutlets served over Beer Stein Noodles with a creamy bacon mushroom and green pea sauce. Can also be made with chicken or turkey.
4 pork, turkey, or chicken breasts
3 to 4 eggs
4 tbsp milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup mushrooms
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp oil
1 cup cream
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh parsley
400g ALB-GOLD Beer Mug Noodles
Prepare meat by first rolling or pounding it flat, so that each piece is relatively thin.
In a bowl crack the eggs open and add the milk. Season egg mixture with salt and pepper. Using a fork beat the mixture until it is homogeneous.
Take each piece a meat and dip it from both sides into the egg mixture. Then dip it into the bread crumbs also from both sides.
In a frying pan heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil until it is nice a hot. Fry the meat on both sides until it is golden brown.
For the sauce:
Chop the garlic and cut the bacon and mushrooms in slices. In a pan fry the bacon in 1 tbsp oil, and then add the garlic, mushrooms and peas. Add 3 tbsp of water into pan and simmer for a few minutes. Next, season with salt and pepper. Then add the cream and again allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, chop the parsley and add it to the sauce, setting some aside to garnish the plate later.
In the mean time cook the noodles in boiling salt water until they are al dente.
On a plate prepare the schnitzel with the noodles and sauce and garnish with the remaining parsley.
This recipe is filling enough to be a main meal. Use your favourite smoked sausage and serve with slices of German wholegrain rye bread for a satisfying meal.
500g jar German Sauerkraut
250g speck or bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
4 1/4 cups (1 litre) cold water
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
125g (approx.) smoked sausage of your choice, sliced or chopped
140 ml sour cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the Sauerkraut in cold water and leave to drain.
Place Sauerkraut, onion, garlic and cold water in a large saucepan with seasoning. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the chopped bacon in a deep frying pan until the fat starts to run. Stir in the paprika and mix into the Sauerkraut mixture. Return to a gentle simmer for another 15 minutes then add the dill and sausage of your choice. Stir in the cream, check the seasoning and reheat until just on the point of boiling. Serve with rye bread.
German Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Black Cherry Preserves
Serves: 24 brownies
3 (100g each) packages German dark chocolate (e.g. Vivani or Ritter Sport)
1/4 cup German black cherry preserves (e.g. Zentis)
3 tablespoons German spiced apple butter (e.g. Grafschafter)
2 tablespoons German Acacia honey (e.g. Langnese)
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour*
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Break or cut chocolate into 2-3cm pieces and place in heatproof bowl. Gently melt chocolate in double boiler. Remove from heat; set aside. Coat an 20x20cm square non-stick baking pan with cooking spray; set aside. In large bowl combine preserves, apple butter, honey, eggs, egg whites, salt and vanilla extract. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly pour melted chocolate into batter, whisking continuously. Spread batter in pan. Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake 20 minutes or until springy to the touch. Cool on rack. Cut into 24 bars. Serve with whipped cream and warmed cherry reserves, if desired.
*Option: Use mixture of 1/4 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour and 3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour.
Recipes courtesy of www.germanfoods.org