The end of September signals the changing of seasons and with that the start of Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is the worlds largest Beer Festival held annually in Munich, Germany. This festival is all about beer and German foods.
As you know I dislike beer but growing up with German heritage I’m all about the traditional foods. I don’t eat a lot of meat or heavy foods but this is the time of year to splurge a little and celebrate traditions.
I have two go to meals that remind me of my Grandparents, and our German heritage. Below you will find the recipes for my versions of some traditional German dishes. The first meal stars my delicious Sauerbraten; this is a classic sour German pot roast. The roast is brined in a ‘sour’ mix for at least 2 days, which adds great flavor and softness to the roast. The gravy features some of the sour marinade as well as sweetness from the addition of gingersnap cookies.
Braised red cabbage is classic and growing up we had it at all holiday meals. When I think of my Grandma I think of red cabbage. My cousin, my sister and I all loved this dish. When I asked Grandma for the recipe she of course said there is no recipe as she just did it form memory and looks. Well I have over the years created my version that I think is pretty close to Grandma’s.
The second meal I serve at my Oktoberfest dinner parties is classic Sauerkraut and Sausage. In my family this is classically served on Christmas Eve, but I also like it in the fall, 2 times a year is plenty, lol. I use my homemade Sauerkraut but you can of course use store bought, but if you have not made your own Sauerkraut you should! I like to use 3 types of sausage, the classic German wiener, bratwurst and bockwurst that is pork and veal sausage.
Cheesy Spaetzle (also spelled Spätzle) goes with both these meals. Spaetzle is a traditional German side dish, which are mini dumpling like noodles. You can make these little dumpling noodles with herbs and traditionally you just brown them in butter and serve, but I like to take a next step and add mushrooms and cheese and bake for a delicious German “mac & cheese”. To make Spaetzle you do need a Spaetzle maker, you can easily order a traditional one from Amazon or this flat version like I have can do double duty as a pot strainer.
Now as far as the drinking component of this season, Beer is obviously the go to drink. Although there is some great wines that you can serve alongside these meals. First I like to go for a German classic, Gewürztraminer. This grape grows nicely in cooler climates and even though the grapes are rose in color but it makes a white wine. Gundlach Bundschu in Sonoma have been growing Gewürztraminer for 160 years so they know what they are doing. This wine is full of Asian pear on the nose, citrus flavors and a crisp dry finish.
To keep with the Gewürztraminer I also love to serve a Washington version but in the sparkling form. Yes Treveri Cellars in Eastern Washington produce a sparkling wine that is 100% Gewürztraminer. At only $17 a bottle this is a must have to share with your guests as it’s so unusual.
By now you must have realized that I love to travel the world by creating meals from different cultures and places. Since we are currently don’t have the ability to travel as much as we would like, I like to live vicariously thru my friends like Retired and Traveling, follow along on their adventures currently in China and Japan. Also for great travel and wine stories go visit my friends at Wine Travel Eats. We have traveled parts of the world but there is something about bringing the different flavors of the world to your table and sharing them with your friends and family.
If you are in Seattle and want to go to a few Oktoberfest festivities there is still time to go check out: Leavenworth Oktoberfest If you are in the Napa area check out Oktoberfest at the CIA Copia.
- 1 3-4 pound roast, top or bottom round roast
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 yellow onion, chopped in chunks
- 1 lemon, washed/scrubbed and cut into wedges
- 1 fresh bay leaf, or 2 dried
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 12 whole cloves
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
- Combine marinade ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a zip lock bag add the roast, pour in the cooled marinade, seal. Place bag in a container or bowl in case of leakage. Place in fridge, chill for 2 days, flip the bag over every now and then to make sure entire roast is getting the marinade.
- Remove roast from marinade, strain marinade into a measuring glass. In a preheated 350 degree oven roast the beef in a roasting pan( I use a braising pan) for about 2 hours until tender.
- When tender remove roast and let it rest on a cutting board until cool. Pour any liquid into the marinade.
- Place the braising pan over medium heat and add the oil and the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. To make the roux will take about 10 minutes until the flour is dark reddish brown.
- Gradually add 2 cups of the marinade to the roux, stir to incorporate, add in the broth. Bring to a slight boil and stir until it has thickened. Add the sugar and cookie crumbs, stir to melt in. Remove 1/2 the gravy.
- Slice the roast against the grain, lay the slices in the pan and nestle into the gravy.
- You can do this in advance up to one day. Cover and chill. When ready to serve simply place in a 400degree oven and cook until heated thru about 10 minutes. Serve along with the remaining 1/2 of the heated gravy.
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup chicken broth ( You can use a vegetarian version here)
- 1 shallot, diced
- 5 medium/large cremini mushrooms sliced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. In a second bowl whisk together the broth and the eggs. Gently fold in the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until it comes together, it's a loose batter.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, generously salt the water. With a Spaetzle maker press 1/3 of the batter into the boiling water, boil for 2 minutes, remove from water and rinse with cold water, set aside as you continue to make the rest of the noodles/dumplings.
- In a nonstick sauté pan melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat, add in the shallot and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are golden. Remove and place in a baking dish.
- Sauté the spaetzle in batches in 1 tablespoon of butter each. Sauté and toss about until golden. Place into baking dish and toss together with mushrooms shallot mixture and the Gruyere and 1/2 the Parmesan. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top.
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve alongside Sauerbraten or Sausage and Sauerkraut.
- 1/2 package of peppered bacon, diced
- 2 pounds Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups white wine, I have used Chardonnay or any dry white.
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons gin
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 Bratwurst sausage
- 4 Bockwurst sausage
- 4-8 German wieners
- Preheat oven to 300degrees.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat cook the bacon, until slightly browned 5-10 minutes. If the bacon lets off a lot of grease, spoon off most the fat. Stir in the sauerkraut and then the remaining ingredients not including the sausages. Bring to a boil, place in oven and bake for an hour.
- After an hour remove from oven and nestle in the sausages into the sauerkraut and then return to the oven. **
- Serve alongside Spaetzle, and an assortment of mustards and horseradish.
- **If your sausages are precooked then bake for a half hour, if they are raw sausages then bake for an hour. If a mixture of both, then start by adding the raw, cook 30 minutes and then add in the remaining sausages.
- 2 pounds red cabbage, sliced into thin strips.
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup vegetarian broth
- 1/3 cup red currant jam
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- salt and pepper
- fresh dill
- Start by tossing the shredded cabbage with the salt and vinegar. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, tossing occasionally.
- In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and sauté the onion until tender but not browned. Sprinkle the sugar over the onion and toss. Drain the cabbage but reserve the liquid. Toss the cabbage with the onion and sauté for a minute or two. Add the liquids including the reserved vinegar from the cabbage, and stir in the jam.
- In a metal tea infuser ball or cheesecloth place the spices, cloves thru caraway seeds. Nestle spice packet into the cabbage. Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to simmer and simmer for upwards of 2.5 hours until cabbage is tender and flavorful.
- Remove spices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh dill, serve alongside Sauerbraten and Spaetzle.
- Leftovers can easily be frozen and they will thaw and reheat well.
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