Home Made Bratwurst with Apples and Pumpkin-Sweetpotato Mash

Bratwurst Thuringia-Style

There is more to German Cuisine than Bratwurst. This statement is the epitome of this blog. But a blog called “Morethanbratwurst” should probably boast at least one Bratwurst recipe. Well here it is.

With over 40 different types of Bratwurst in Germany, there is no single one that can be considered the best; although many Germans will have their favorite and probably disagree with this statement. My favorite is the Bratwurst Thuringian Style, which I will use as the basis for this post.

When it comes to Bratwurst, nothing beats the home-made Wurst. While making your own Bratwurst may strike you as strange when it is so easy to buy them cheaply at any supermarket, there are many arguments for the home made BW:

You know what went into it, you control the quality of meat used, you can spice it to your own desire and your will definitely be the star at the next BBQ you get invited to with plenty of people striking up a conversation just to get the recipe.

In a 2012 review conducted by a German consumer products evaluation organization, 19 different Bratwurst Brands were tested.  Only 5 received the predicate “good”, 10 were satisfactory, 1 was acceptable, and 3 were unacceptable. Surprising results for a country that is known for its tendency for over-correctness and, well, Bratwurst. Another reason to try homemade Bratwurst.

All you need is a meat grinder and a sausage filler attachment. But more on that later.

When you order a Bratwurst at a German Bratwurst stand as a snack, it is traditionally served with or in a roll and with mustard. No more, no less.

Another typical combination is to serve them as a main meal with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut or apples sauce.

The Bratwurst will hardly ever be ‘novel cuisine’ but in an attempt to combine tradition with the modern, I came across a recipe that uses apples, sage, pumpkin seeds, and sweet potato mash.  Thus inspired, I created a modified version, adding a bit more flavor through additional spices.

One important note, if you are a dog owner: When making your own bratwurst, lock the dog out of the kitchen!  Letting the dog watch you making bratwurst while they can’t have any, definitely qualifies as pet cruelty!

Joking aside, making your own bratwurst is a bit messy. During the preparation, some of the raw ground pork is bound to hit the floor. Raw pork is potentially dangerous for dogs. Pigs can host the Suid Herpes Virus, which is harmless to humans. Thus, the slaughtered animals are only visually inspected for signs of the virus. While the virus is harmless for humans, if you feed your dog raw meat from an infected pig and the dog contracts the disease he/she will day in 1-3 days! There is no cure! So lock the dog out of the kitchen, really!

Outlining the importance of the Wurst in Germany there is a German expression: “Jetzt geht’s um die Wurst” (literally translated: “now it’s all about the Sausage”). In everyday life situations this means “now it is all or nothing”.

When going to the effort of preparing Bratwurst. Make as many as possible, You can easily take the base recipe below and double it. Once done, freeze the Wurst for the next BBQ. Works just fine. Just don’t forget to take them out of the freezer, the night before.

So here is how:

You will need:

  • A meat grinder with sausage attachment
  • 10m sausage casing for bratwurst size 25, 30, or 32. (I use the real thing: pork intestines). You can get it at the butcher’s supply shop or EBay
  • 1.25 kg pork belly with high fat content (not smoked, deboned and without skin)
  • 1.25 pork shoulder (deboned and without skin)
  • 45g salt
  • 7g freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 g ground cumin
  • 7g mustard seed
  • 5 g nutmeg
  • 2 TB dried Marjoram
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1 TS sugar
  • 100 g fine bread crumbs
  • 50 ml milk or cream (if needed)
  • 1-2 l dark beer
  • 1-2 l chicken broth
  • Kitchen string
  • 6 Apples
  • 100 ml dry apple cider
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic with skin
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 leaves of sage
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • A sewing needle
  • Kitchen string

Making the Wurst:

You will require a solid meat grinder and a sausage filler attachment. If you don’t have one, I suggest to have a look at EBay.

Take the sausage casing out of its packaging and prepare according to the packaging insert. If you are using pork intestine it usually needs to be rinsed under running water and the soak in cold water for half an hour.

While the sausage casing is taking its bath, prepare the meat. When selecting the meat, do not go for one that is too lean. In fact, for a juicy Bratwurst you will need a higher fat content otherwise the Wurst will end up dry.

Cut the 1.25 kg pork belly and pork shoulder into small pieces. And process through the medium grinding wheel.

After grinding all the meat, at the spices which are: 45g salt 7g freshly ground black pepper, 5 g ground cumin, 7g mustard seed, 5 g nutmeg, 2 TB dried Marjoram, 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped, 1 TS sugar, 1 medium onion, finely chopped. Add the eggs and cream and mix well. If the meat dough is too moist you can balance it by adding some finely ground breadcrumbs.

Grind the meat a second time using a fine wheel. Your aim is to achieve a very fine, almost fluffy consistency. Again, use finely ground breadcrumbs and cream to balance the dough, sometimes it may be required to run it through the grinder a third time.

To make it easier to understand the process I dug up a video on YouTube. These two BBQ fans do a pretty good job and are very close to what the process I am suggesting here. Here is another good video that I like with additional tips.

Once you have filled the sausage, take a needle and prick the skin in several places so that any trapped air can escape during the cooking process. More is better here.

Now you have a sausage filled with raw meat. You could already throw it on the grill, but I suggest an additional step.

In a large cooking pot bring 1-2 l of dark beer and 1-2 l of chicken broth to a boil.

Reduce heat so the broth does not boil anymore, but stays hot. Poach the Bratwurst for 10 minutes. Take out and let cool off.

Now they are ready to go onto your charcoal grill. Or, if you want to try something a bit more sophisticated, read on:

Preheat the oven to 200 °C (180°C with Fan). In the meantime, quarter 6 apples and remove the core. Cut the apple quarters into smaller wedges.

Cut one large onions into small wedges. Crush two cloves of garlic and do not remove the skin. Rinse 5 leaves of sage.

Grease a large baking sheet and place the apples, onions, garlic and bratwurst onto the sheet. Spread sage and pumpkinseeds on top, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add 100 ml of apple cider. Bake for about 25 minutes until the sausage has a nice brown color.

As a side, serve pumpkin –sweet potato mash, seasoned with butter, milk, nutmeg and salt. Serve with a cold beer, cider, or a dry white.

Now all you have do is awe your guest with you ability to make bratwurst and turn it into in a meal that has a touch of gourmet.

And Now:

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Jellied Goose with Home-Fried Potatoes and Frankfurt Green Sauce

Gänse- Sauerfleisch

Gänse- Sauerfleisch

This is a variation of a very popular Northern German Christmas leftover dish, that I have taken and completely re-vamped. My mother used to make a crude version of this on Christmas Eve.  As a child I always liked it and it has been many years since I had the opportunity to eat it.

Traditionally, on Christmas a roast Goose or Duck is served as the big holiday meal. If there are leftovers, one using them was by marinating them in spiced and sour gelatin on one of the days after Christmas.

The dish may have roots in the regions of Pomerania where goose farming has been practiced since 1500. However, I have not found any reliable source that this recipe did indeed originated there.

Home Fried Potatoes (Bratkartoffeln) is probably the dish that any German apprentice Chef learns how to prepare first. When prepared well, it is pure simplicity with great taste, so it is a bit of a surprise that truly well prepared Bratkartoffeln are so hard to find in German restaurants (abroad). I will prepare a dedicated blog post for them in the future.

The Frankfurt Green Sauce had its origins (you may have guessed) in Frankfurt. It is a salsa type cold sauce made from hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar, salt, sour cream and generous amount of seven fresh herbs, most commonly borage, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and salad burnet. Depending on the season sometimes other fresh herbs including dill, shallots, lovage, lemon balm, even spinach can be used. If you live in the Frankfurt area, any Supermarket and open-air-market sells these herbs per-packaged as a green sauce herbs bundle.  If you can’t get them all, don’t be discouraged, just use what you can find and experiment, it will still taste great.

In Grüne Soße, the eggs are usually hard-boiled, then finely chopped or even pureed before they will be combine with a white base from sour cream and / or yogurt. It is a true herbal taste buds explosion and goes very well with boiled potatoes, fried potatoes, white meat, fish, pasta, even Schnitzel (remember, a true Wiener Schnitzel is always served without sauce).

In fact, one of the simplest and yet surprisingly tasty regional dishes in Frankfurt is Green Sauce with nothing but boiled potatoes. Green sauce was supposedly Goethe‘s favorite condiment.

The jellied goose meat, the home fired potatoes, and green sauce is a typical combination of two regional specialties, and a bit of work to prepare, but in essence a truly German meal.

with Frankfurter Green Sauce and Home Fries

with Frankfurter Green Sauce and Home Fries

Serves: 4                Difficulty: Medium                  Preparation time: 2.5 hours

Note: the Jellied Goose needs to be prepared the day before.

For the Jellied Goose you will need:

    •  4 Goose Drumsticks (300g or 10.6 oz each)
    • Salt, freshly ground white pepper
    • 1/4 l (8.5 fl ounces) quality White Wine Vinegar
    • 4 medium Bay leaves
    • 6 Cloves
    • 6 Kernels Allspice
    • 6 Juniper Berries
    • 1 TBS Mustard Seeds
    • 10 white Peppercorns
    • 2 Onions
    • 2 large Carrots
    • 2 TBS Olive Oil
    • Gelatin Powder for 1l (34 fl oz) liquid
    • 1-2 TBS Sugar

Preparation:

Rinse the drumsticks, place into a cooking pot large enough to accommodate. Add 1.5 – 2 l of water or until meat is covered. Add 3 TS of Salt, 5 TBS White Wine Vinegar, 4 Medium Bay leaves 6 Cloves 6 Kernels Allspice, 6 Juniper Berries, 1 TBS of Mustard Seeds, 10 White Peppercorns and bring to a boil. In the meantime peel the 2 onions and the 2 large carrots. Add 1 onion and 1 Carrot to the pot and let simmer for one hour on low heat.

Remove drumsticks and let cool off. Remove the skin and give to the dog if you want.  Remove meat from the bones (DONOT feed the bones to the dog!) Cut meat into mouth size pieces and combine meat with 2 TBS olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Thoroughly remove fat from broth using for example a fat separator jug. Filter the broth through a very fine sieve or clean kitchen towel. Measure 1 l of the broth, add the remaining vinegar and bring to a boil. Slice the remaining carrot and onion, add to broth and let simmer for 10 minutes. Soak enough gelatin powder to gel 1 l of liquid in cold water according to packaging instructions. Remove broth from heat. Drain access liquid from Gelatin if needed and dissolve in the now still hot BUT NOT BOILING broth. Season broth with salt, white pepper, and sugar as needed.  Arrange meat in e.g. a casserole and spread onions and carrots over it. Add broth until everything is evenly covered.  Place in fridge overnight and serve cold with the home fried potatoes and green sauce.

The Frankfurt Green Sauce:

      • 2 Eggs (hard boiled)
      • 3 EL White Wine or Herbal Vinegar
      • 1/2 TS Salt
      • Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
      • 1 TS Sugar
      • 300 ml (10.1 fl oz) Sour Cream
      • 300 ml (10.1 fl oz) Yogurt
      • 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) Olive Oil
      • 1 -2 TS Quality medium spicy Mustard
      • 250 g fresh or frozen mixed Garden Herbs (e.g. borage, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, chives, parsley, salad burnet, dill)

Preparation:

Hard boil 2 eggs for 10 minutes, rinse with cold water and peel. Let the eggs cool. Combine 3 TBS White Wine Vinegar, ½ TS salt, pinch of freshly ground white pepper, 1 TS sugar, 300 ml (10.1 fl oz) Sour Cream, 300 ml (10.1 fl oz) Yogurt, 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) Olive Oil, 1 -2 TS Quality medium spicy Mustard and 250 g fresh or frozen mixed Garden Herbs to a sauce. Very finely chop cooled off hard boiled eggs and gently stir into the sauce. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and mustard as desired and place in fridge until ready to serve.

Home Fried Potatoes

      • 1 Onion
      • 3 El Clarified Butter
      • 80 g Bacon Bits
      • 500 g unpeeled boiled and cooled off potatoes (best prepared the day before)
      • Salt and Pepper
      • 2 TBS Finely Chopped Parsley

Preparation:

Finely chop 1 onion. Heat clarified butter in a frying pan. Fry bacon bits until they begin to brown, than add onions and fry for two more minutes until onions are soft and beginning to brown (onions must not turn dark color). Remove bacon and onions from frying pan and set aside.

Peel potatoes and cut into 5mm thick slices. Heat 2 TBS clarified butter in a very large frying pan (or use 2 smaller frying pans). Fry the potatoes slowly on medium heat, giving them a flip every now and then until they have developed and nice golden brown crunchy exterior.

Add onions and bacon and fry for 2 more minutes. Add chopped parsley and serve immediately with the jellied goose and green sauce.

And now:

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The Perfect Wiener Schnitzel with Austrian Potato Salad

Wiener Schnitzel mit steirischerm Kartoffelsalat

Wiener Schnitzel mit steirischem Kartoffelsalat

It will come as a surprise to some. But strictly speaking, the Wiener Schnitzel (Schnitzel Vienna) is not a German dish.

“I knew that…,” many of you might say. “Wien or Vienna, is after, all the Capital City of Austria, so it must be Austrian!” Well, there seems to be an ongoing dispute on that very subject, and strictly speaking, today’s Wiener Schnitzel may actually stem from the Cotoletta Milanese and may go as far back as to the Romans of the 1th century BC. So the origins of the Wiener Schnitzel may actually be Italian.

The Cotoletta Milanese was usually a veal chop pounded and breaded and served with lemon. Today’s Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally a thin veal cut without bone.

Another legend states that the origin of the Schnitzel go back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

According to the legend, Emporer Basileios I (867-886AD) liked his meat coated with golddust. The wealthy soon began to copy this and the poor used breadcrumbs to at least achvieve the look of gold.  Over the years, the use of bread crumbs in coating meat spread to neighboring lands.

The legend that Field Marshal Joseph Radetzkey brought it to Austria in 1857 from Italy seems to have been disproven in 2007 by the Austrian Professor for Linguistics Heinz Dieter Pohl.

Here are some more facts:

  • “Wiener” means Viennese and in Austria and Germany, the term “Wiener Schnitzel” is protected by law and refers to a breaded and fried 4 mm thin and lightly hammered veal slice. So if you order a chicken Schnitzel in an Austrian restaurant by calling it a Wiener Chicken Schnitzel, you will be arrested on the spot by the Waiter by special authority vested in him or her by the Austrian Government. (I am kidding)
  • If in a German Restaurant you order a “Schnitzel Wiener Art” – Schnitzel Vienna Style, it is usually a slice of pork, not veal – something to be aware of, if you want to order the real thing.
  • When frying the Schnitzel large amounts of clarified butter and butter are used. It is fried at temperatures of around 160°C and should almost swim in clarified butter.
  • Sometimes several frying pans are used to prepare several Schnitzel at the same time. Once fried, it should be served immediately.
  • During the frying process the breading should slightly detach itself in a wavy souflée fashion without falling off the meat.
  • Serving it with Lemon, Anchovies, and Capers is an influence of Northern Germany. At least the lemon has found its way back to Austria.
  • Austrians seem to think Germans mutilate this classic by serving it with sauce. Not entirely true, and in fine cuisine this would be considered a major fauxpas. Serving or eating it with Ketchup is another offence that would be heavily frowned upon in Germany and Austria.
  • In German the word Schnitzel is both Singular and Plural meaning when ordering, it is one Schnitzel and it is two Schnitzel (not Schnitzels).

While a Wiener Schnitzel is actually quite easy to make, there are a few tricks I will try to outline in the below text. I serve it with a cucumber potato salad.

Serves: 4                Difficulty: Easy                    Preparation time: 60 mins.

For the Austrian Potato Salad

  • 600g (21 oz or 1.3 lbs) waxy potatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers
  • Salz
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Bacon Bits
  • 2 Schalotts
  • 50 g (1,7 oz or 2 TBS) Butter
  • 50ml (1.7 fl oz) White Wine Vinegar
  • 150 ml Chicken Bouillon (instant)
  • 1 TBS Medium Spicey Mustard
  • 30ml (1.1 fl. oz) Olive Oil
  • freshly ground Salt and Pepper
  • 20ml (0.7 fl oz) Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • 50g (1.7 oz) Watercress

For the Schnitzel:

  • 4 Escalopes of Veal ( à 160g – 200g) – ask your butcher to pound it flat
  • Salt and White Pepper
  • Paprika Powder
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 5 TBS of cream
  • 2 Small Eggs
  • 2 cups of fine bread crumbs
  • 150g (5.3 oz) Clarified Butter
  • 6 Capers
  • 50g (1.7) Butter

Garnish

  • 4 Lemon Wedges
  • 4 Anchovies
  • 1 TBS Capers
  • Parsley

Additionally you will need:

  • Ceram Wrap
  • one large (or several smaller) frying pan

Start with the potato salad as it will need to soak for a while in its vinaigrette.

Boil 600g (21 oz or 1.3 lbs) waxy potatoes with skin for about 20 minutes. Drain hot water and fill pot with cold water. Peel the skin and cut potatoes into 3 mm thin slices.  Peel 2 Cucumbers and cut in halves lengthwise. With a tea spoon, scrap out the seeds. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices, season lightly with salt and set aside. Finely dice the shallots, cut the bacon bits into smaller bits if they are too large. Heat 50g (1,7 oz or 2 TBS) Butter in a frying pan. Add the bacon bits and fry until it begins to brown. Add unions and fry for 3 more minutes. Deglaze with 50ml (1.7 fl oz) White Wine Vinegar and 150 ml Chicken Bouillon (instant). Add 1 TBS Medium Spicy Mustard and let simmer for 3 Minutes on low heat. While stirring, slowly pour in 30ml (1.1 fl. oz) Olive Oil. Combine and sauté the warm vinaigrette and potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper. Drain any liquid that may have accumulated in the bowl with cucumbers. Add Cucumbers and 20ml (0.7 fl oz) Pumpkin Seed Oil and chill for 1 – 2 hours.

Preparing the Wiener Schnitzel:

If your butcher was not able to flatten the veal cut for you it is easy to do this yourself: Place a sheet of Ceram wrap on a chopping board. Rinse and dry the meat and place one slice at a time onto the Ceram wrap. Cover with another layer of Ceram wrap. With the bottom of a small frying pan, beat the meat until you have the desired thickness of about 4 – 5 mm. Repeat with the other slices of meat. Season meat from both with white pepper, salt, and a pinch of paprika powder.

In a small bowl whisk the cream for a few minutes, add the eggs and whisk again until all is evenly combined.

Prepare 3 deep dishes: one with one cup of flour, one with the egg / cream mixture and the 3rd dish with 2 cups of fine bread crumbs

What follows is a bit complex, so read it first before you start to cook:

Heat 150 g of clarified butter and 50 g of Butter in a large frying pan. Take care that the fat does not get too hot. I use setting 50% of full heat. Once melted, place onto the back burner until ready to fry.

Preheat and oven to 90°C (190°F), place a layer of paper towels onto a baking sheet.

Turn one slice of veal in the flour until evenly covered, and shake of any access flour. Turn in the egg / cream mixture until evenly covered, followed by turning it in bread crumbs until evenly covered. Never press the breadcrumbs into the meat.
Set breaded meat aside. Repeat this with the other 3 pieces. By the time you have done your second slice of meat, but the frying pan back onto 3 /4 of full heat. (Depending on your stoves power setting you may need more or less heat. The frying grease should never be so hot that smoke develops.)
Finish breading as described and place all Schnitzel into your frying pan.

Tip: the Schnitzel needs to swim in fat. If your frying pan is too small, use 2 or even 3 if you have to.  In that instance you need to increase your amount of fat. Never cramp the Schnitzel into a frying pan that is too small.

Carefully place the Schnitzel into the frying fat, add 6 capers. Move the pan back and forth, tilting it so hot grease can run over the topside of the Schnitzel, and/or ues a spoon to scoop hot grease over the meat. Once the underside is golden brown (usually 2-3 mins), turn the Schnitzel and repeat on the other side. Traditionally, the Schnitzel is only turned once. Take care not to let it turn too dark. Remove Schnitzel form pan and place onto paper towel and keep warm in the oven. (Don’t waste too much time now, the Schnitzel must be served as soon as possible now.)

Arrange the potato – cucumber salad on a plate. Sprinkle with fresh watercress. Place one Schnitzel next to it. Decorate with a thick lemon slice, one filet of Anchovies, some capers and a sprig of parsley per plate.

Serve immediately.

And now:

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Lentil Stew with Frankfurter Sausage and Spaetzle

Linsengemüse mit Würstchen und Spätzle

Linsengemüse mit Würstchen und Spätzle

Region: South-West Germany, State of Baden Württemberg, Swabia

Can you whip up something delicious with the 3 main ingredients being lentils, Spaetzle, and Frankfurter Sausages?

Ask any Houswife from the southwestern German Region of Swabia and they will say: Sure, it is one of our classics!

Regional cooking in Swabia is much more down to earth and simpler when compared to the other areas of Germany. In traditional Swabian Cuisine one still sees the influences of times of hardship much more than elsewhere in Germany.

Mean people say: The Swabian will eat anything as long as it comes with enough gravy. Well, there may be some truth to it, if one considers, that the signature dish of Swabia, the Speatzle, really need lots of sauce.

This dish is a perfect winter meal. Quick and easy to prepare, very filling and the lentil stew makes a perfect left over dish. Give it a try.

You will need:

Serves: 4                Difficulty: Easy                    Preparation time: 75 mins.

  • 500g (1 lbs) Fast Cooking Lentils (e.g Pardina Lentils)
  • 3 Medium Carrots, diced
  • 1 Large Onion,
  • ½ Leek
  • ½ small Celery Root
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Lovage Herbs (use 1.2 TBS dried if you cannot get fresh),
  • 1 TBS Clarified Butter
  • 5 Cloves
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 5 Juniper Berries
  • 1 -2 TBS fresh Marjoram (use dried if you cannot get fresh),
  • Salt, Pepper, 2 Pinches of Sugar
  • 800ml (28 fl oz) Unsalted Liquid Vegetable Broth in a Glass
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz) Liquid Beef Broth in a Glass
  • 5-10 TBS Quality White Wine Vinegar
  • 150g (5.3 oz) Bacon Bits
  • 2 TBS Butter,
  • 2 TBS Flour,
  • 8 Quality Frankfurter Sausages (get organic is you can)
  • 1 Paper Tea Filter
  • 1 Bunch of Parsley, finely chopped (save a few leaves for decoration)
  •  A decision if you want to make the Spaetzle yourself or if you want to use off the shelf product in which case you will need:
  • 200g (7 oz) Quality Brand ready to use Spaetzle.

If you want to make the Spaetzle yourself you will need:

  • 300g(10.6 oz) Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Pinches of Salt
  • ½ TS Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • 6 TBS Sparkling Mineral Water

Here is how it is done:

Dice 3 medium carrots, 1 large onion, ½ leek, ½ small celery root, and finely chop lovage herbs, marjoram, and parsley.

Place 5 cloves, 1 bay leaf and 5 juniper berries in a large paper tea filter, close it with a knot.

Place bacon in a cold large cooking pot and bring to high heat. Let the bacon roast for a few minutes until it begins to brown. Remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 TBS of clarified butter and roast the vegetables for 4 minutes.

Add 500g lentils and 800 ml unsalted vegetable broth. Add water if needed. Lentils should be covered with water. Toss in the tea filter with herbs. Add 1 TBS Majoran and lovage. Bring to a boil and once boiling reduce heat to a simmer. DO NOT ADD SALT YET!

Let cook according to the lentil packaging instructions. With the product I used it took 45 minutes.

If you want to make the Spaetzle yourself prepare the dough while the lentils are simmering away:

Combine 300g (10.6 oz) flour, 4 whole eggs, 2 pinches of salt, ½ TS freshly ground nutmeg, and 6 TBS Sparkling Mineral Water in a bowl and blend using your favorite mixer for 5 minutes.  Use more water if the dough is too dry.

If you ever wondered what the wooden cooking spoon with the hole in the center is for…; well, it is made for beating Spaetzle dough.

What follows is what scares people about making Spaetzle: It is beating the dough; a bit of a work out. You need to beat air into the dough. With a wooden cooking spoon, beat the Spaetzle dough for 5 minutes or until you see air bubbles. I use my hands for doing this; messy, but less strenuous. Let the dough rest for a while.

In the meantime, check your lentils. Add more water if needed, they should remain covered.

In a small sauce pan, melt 2 TBS of Butter. Once melted and hot, add 2 TBS of flour and whisk well, While frequently whisking let the flour turn light to medium brown until you begin to smell roasting aromas. You want a cappuccino type of brown, not chocolate dark. Once browned, Remove from heat and add ½ cup of liquid beef broth. Return to heat and stir vigorously. It will turn into a thick paste. Remove from heat and add another ½ cup of broth and stir vigorously. Repeat this process of adding broth, heating and stirring until you have liquid but thick gravy. Give it a short bubble on heat then set aside.

Once lentils are done, pour in 1 cup of the gravy, season with a generous amount of salt. Season with Pepper, more marjoram if need and 5 – 10 TBS of high quality white wine vinegar (Tip: use one with a well balanced acidity) and 2 pinches of sugar. Keep warm.

In a large cooking pot bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a silent simmer. Add 8 Frankfurter Sausages and let them soak in the hot but not boiling water for 10 minutes.

In another large pot bring salted water to a boil.

Place dough onto a wet wooden board, and using a long knife, spread it thin on the board, keep it wet using the boiling salt water and then scrape it into mildly boiling water. If it gets sticky, wet with water from the pot.

Cook for a few minutes until Spaetzle start to float.

I found a video that shows how to do make Spaetzle the original way. It is in German, but you will get the main points outlined above. Note how he beats the heck out of the dough.  Must be a good way of relieving tension.

Again, as mentioned above, if you have access to good quality off the shelf spaetzle, go ahead and use them. In fact, any type of pasta will work fine.

Serve everything in a large and preheated soup dish. Decorate with some parsley.

A cold beer is a good companion.

And now:

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Hamburg Panfish

_OHP9249-WEB

Hamburger Pannfish (Hamburg Panfish)

Region: Hamburg, Northern Germany

How about a fish meal that your kid will actually eat?

Try this one: Hamburg Panfish

Hamburg  Panfish is a very traditional dish from (you guessed it) Hamburg and popular in northern Germany and beyond.  In some way it is closely related to the German Farmers Breakfast I recently introduced.

Traditionally, it was a left over dish of the working class in Hamburg when there was fish and potatoes left from the previous day’s dinner.  Everything was munched together and drowned in a mustard sauce.

Nowadays, the preparation is a much more sophisticated with only the best and freshest fish, a light mustard sauce, and lots of fresh herbs. Sometimes the fish is first breaded then fried others dust it with flour.

It is popular to the extent that any good German Restaurant in Hamburg has it on the menu.  Try it yourself and see why.

Serves: 4                Difficulty: Easy                    Preparation time: 75 mins.

Here is what you need

For the Fish:

For the fried potatoes

  • 600 g (22 oz) Potatoes
  • 3 Medium Carrots
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Peas (deep frozen)
  • 2 TBS Clarified Butter
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 Scallion
  • 50g (1.8 oz) Bacon Bits
  • 5 – 6 Cornichons
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • ½ Bunch of fresh Parsley
  • ½ Bunch of fresh Chives
  • ½ -1 Bunch fresh Dill

For the Mustard Sauce

  • 2 Small Shallots
  • 2 ½  TBS Butter
  • 2 TBS white flour
  • 1 TBS Ground Mustard Seeds
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) Liquid Fish Stock (in a Glas)
  • 50g (1.8 oz) Cream
  • 50g  (1.8 oz) Sour cream
  • 2-5 TBS of Horseradish Mustard (or Regular Mustard if you can’t get)
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper.
  • A Pinch of Sugar
  • A Pinch of Freshly Ground Nutmeg

Here’s what to do

First, there are a few things to chop and dice:

Peel 600 g (22 oz) potatoes. Cut the larger ones in half and then into not too thin slices; place in cold salt water. Peel and dice one medium onion. Peel and slice one scallion, peel and slice 2 shallots, grind 1 TBS of mustard seeds in a mortar, peel and slice carrots. If required, cut the bacon bits into smaller dices, slice the cornichons, cut ½ bunch of chives into rings, remove leaves from ½ bunch of parsley and roughly chop; do the same with ½ – 1 bunch of dill. Needless to say, keep all of the above nicely separated in little bowls. Should you have mixed it by now, well you are in trouble.

Place the potatoes in a pot add cold water so they are almost covered and 2 TS of salt. Place on oven and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for only 10 minutes (we want them a bit crunchy). After 10 minutes drain hot water and rinse potatoes in cold water to cool the off. Drain and set aside.

Rinse and dry the fish and cut into smaller pieces. Squeeze lemon and in a glass bowl, combine lemon juice, fish and 2-3 pinches of salt. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Preparing the mustard sauce:

In a small sauce pan, melt 2 TBS of Butter and dust in 2 TBS of flour. Stir with a whisk until flour / butter mixture starts to bubble. Gradually add fish stock while constantly stirring. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove from heat. Add the ground mustard seeds, 2-5 TBS of Horseradish (or regular) mustard. (The amount depends on how mustardy you like your sauce. Start with 2 TBS and work your way up as needed.) Add 50g (1.8 oz)  cream and 50g (1.8 oz) sour cream, stir. Season sauce with a pinch of sugar, freshly ground salt and pepper and a pinch of nut meg. Thicken your sauce with two egg yolks. Tipp: if you just dump the egg yolks into the hot sauce, they yolks with set and become chunky. You’ll end up with an egg drop sauce. Instead, in a bowl, one by one add a TBS of warm sauce to the egg, while stirring well. Do this with about 5-6 TBS one after another. Once you have adjusted the temperature of the egg, you are ready to whisk it into the warm (i.e.: not boiling sauce). Set the sauce aside and keep warm on a very low flame (never boil it from here on). Give it an occasional stir.

In a large skillet, melt 2 TBS of clarified butter on high heat. Add the carrots and give a regular pan flip. After two minutes, add the potatoes. Fry for about 10 minutes until the potatoes begin to brown. Add in the bacon and continue to fry for a few more minutes, add the onions and scallions and continue to fry doing the pan flip. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the sliced cornichons, the chives, parsley and dill stir and remove from heat and keep warm.

Frying the fish:

Darin juices from the fish bowl. Dust fish with flour. Melt two TBS of clarified butter in a frying pan, fry the fish filet for a few minutes on each side until it has a straw golden crust. Season with a pinch of fresh white pepper.

Serving: On a preheated plate, arrange fried potatoes and fish, and add a generous amount of mustard sauce. Decorate with a slice of lemon and a sprig of dill.

And now:

http://www.witec-design.de/bilder/produkte/gross/WN001-Wandaufkleber-GUTEN-APPETIT-Wandtattoo-Kueche_b3.jpg

Heaven and Earth (Himmel und Erde)

Region: Rhineland, Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Silesia.

I was on a quest to get the ingredients for this meal today. It required visits to three different supermarkets to get everything. Oh sure, apples, potatoes, most of what was needed was available… but black pudding…blood sausage? … the sort that can be fried…? It earned me a few questioning looks to say the least.

Here I am in the middle of November in the  2nd largest city in Germany and I struggle getting the ingredients for a very traditional dish with a 200 years history. What is wrong with that picture?

I guess that means my international audience will run into similar issues, thus I am making alternative suggestions at the end of the recipe if you can’t get or don’t fancy black pudding .

The name of the dish: Heaven and Earth (Himmel und Erde or in the Rhineland dialect: Himmel un Ääd) originates from the name of two of the main ingredients: the apples “of the heaven” and the apples of “the Earth” (an old word for potatoes is Erdapfel (English: Earthapple), still today in the Rhenish dialect). Malicious tongues claim that adding the black pudding makes it Himmel, Erde und Hölle (Heaven, Earth, and Hell) but I beg to differ.

If you trust me (and I won’t let you down -have I ever-; you may will find a new taste sensation.

Serves: 4                Difficulty: Easy                    Preparation time: 60 mins.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) acidic  Red Apples such as Boskoop or Cockpit, cored, cut into wedges (don’t peel)
  • Juice of one Lemon
  • 200 ml (7 fl. oz) Apple Juice
  • 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) Balsamic Vinegar
  • 50 ml (1.75 fl oz) sweet port wine
  • 2 TBS Sugar
  • 1 Pack Vanilla Sugar
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 6 TBS Butter
  • 6 Shallots, cut into Rings
  • 12 slices of Black Pudding or Blood Sausage, buy the best quality
  • Flour
  • 1 TBS Clarified Butter
  • 150 ml (5.25 fl oz) Milk
  • Freshly Ground Nut Meg
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
  • ½ Bunch of fresh Parsley, finely chopped. Leave a few whole leaves for decoration

Preparation:

Place 1 kg (2 lbs) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks into a large cooking pot with cold, salted water. Add lid and bring to a boil on high setting. Once boiling, reduce heat to 1/3 and let slowly cook for 20 minutes or until tender.

Cut the shallots into rings. Do not skin the apples but remove pits and cut into wedges. Squeeze lemon juice and toss apple wedges in the lemon juice.

In a separate frying pan, melt 2 TBS of butter. Add the onions and sauté the onions until they begin to brown. This will take some time, be patient. Remove onions from frying pan and keep warm. In the same pan melt 2 TBS of sugar and 1 pack of vanilla sugar together with one cinnamon stick. Once caramelized, add 200ml (7 fl oz) of apple juice and 100 ml (3.5 fl 0z) of balsamic vinegar and 50 ml (1.75 fl oz) of sweet Port Wine. Add apples and sauté for a few minutes until apples are almost soft and the liquid has reduced a bit, season with salt, pepper and more sugar if needed. Keep warm in oven for a few minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, drain off most of the water, add 2 TBS of butter, 150 ml (5.25 fl oz) milk, salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes adding chopped parsley.  Season with additional salt, pepper and nutmeg as needed.

Cut black pudding into slices, dust with flour and fry in 1 TBS clarified butter on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and let grease drain on a paper towel.

On preheated plates, arrange mashed potatoes and cover with apple quarters. Arrange black pudding around it and top with onions. Garnish with some parsley leaves.

Tip: Can’t get, or don’t like black pudding? Try liver sausage slices, even bratwurst slices, prepared the same way. Still not your cup of tea?  Try pork chops, small hamburger steaks or crispy bacon instead. Never forget the onions.

And now:

http://www.witec-design.de/bilder/produkte/gross/WN001-Wandaufkleber-GUTEN-APPETIT-Wandtattoo-Kueche_b3.jpg

Cheese Spaetzle with Porcini Mushrooms

Region: Southwestern Germany, Switzerland, Austria

Meet the parents of the American Classic Macaroni and Cheese:

Mr. Gruyère and Mrs. Spaetzle

I introduced Spaetzle in the previous post but did not elaborate on its history and region.

Spaetzle, a German pasta variation are very dominant in southwestern German cooking, namely Swabia. It is said, that Swabian cooking without Spaetzle is unthinkable and torturous to the indigenous Swabian. It would be like removing Pasta from Italian cuisine. And while an Italian without pasta would most likely live in hell, a Swabian without Spaetzle would at least experience the pains of purgatory (figuratively speaking, of course).

Just like Italian pasta, Spaetzle are so much more than just a side dish. They come in a myriad of variations: as liver spaetzle, herbed spaetzle, spinach spaetzle, pumpkin spaetzle, boiled, gratinated, fried or, as in our case, in a hearty and very filling cheese sauce.

Spaetzle are surprisingly simple to make and I recommend giving it a try. While there are very good off the shelf products out there, nothing beats the home made version. And when you make them at home, think of the fact that you are preparing a dish that dates back as far as the 1700s.

Recipes for Cheese Spaetzle are available in abundance. My recipe adheres very much to the classic version. It is okay to experiment with different types of cheese and ingredients, as long as everything is in balance and no ingredient becomes too dominant.

I use Gruyère Cheese with greetings to Switzerland.

Serves: 4   Difficulty: easy    Preparation time: 60 minutes

Ingredients

For the Spaetzle:

  • 400g (14.1 oz) Flour
  • 4 Eggs, 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 Pinches of Salt
  • ½ TS Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • 12 TBS of Beer or Sparkling Mineral Water

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 300g (10.6 oz) Fresh Pocini Mushrooms  (if you cannot get fresh Porcini, use 30g  (1.6 oz) of freeze-dried product and soak in hot water for 30-60 minutes)
  • 3 Medium Onions
  • 1-2 Pinches of sugar
  • 3 Sprigs of Parsley
  • 100ml (3.4 fl oz) Chicken Stock
  • 100g 3.5 oz Sour Cream
  • 3 TBS Butter
  • 50-100g (1.8 oz – 3.6 oz) Gruyère Cheese
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
  • A few leaves of Parsley or chervil for decoration

Preparation:

Unlike what you read or see on YouTtube, you don’t need fancy equipment. At minimum, you can make spaetzle with a wooden spoon, a bowl, a wooden board, and a long knife:

Combine 400g (14.1 oz) flour, 4 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, 2 pinches of salt, ½ TS freshly ground nutmeg, and 12 TBS of beer or sparkling mineral water in a bowl and blend using your favorite mixer for 5 minutes.  Use more water if the dough is too dry.

If you ever wondered what the wooden cooking spoon with the hole in the center is for…; well, it is made for beating spaetzle dough.

What follows is what scares people about making spaetzle: It is beating the dough; a bit of a work out. You need to beat air into the dough. With a wooden cooking spoon, beat the Spaetzle dough for 5 minutes or until you see air bubbles. I use my hands for doing this; messy, but less strenuous. Afterwards let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Tip: It is okay to use a Kitchen Aid for the above process.

Heat a large pot with salted water.

There are several ways of getting the dough into spaetzle shape and into the boiling water. The easiest method uses a wooden board with a handle. Wet the board well with your boiling water, place a small amount of dough on the board, spread it thin and then scrape it off into the boiling water using a long knife.

It will only take a few minutes before the spaetzle are done. As soon as the spaetzle begin to float, remove them from the boiling water with a sieve and rinse with cold water. Set aside for later processing Confused by these instructions? Watch this German lady with a thick Swabian accent demonstrate it.

Once all spaetzle dough has been processes, cover them with a moist towel.

In the meantime, clean the mushrooms, and cut into small slices. Peel onions and cut into rings and chop parsley.

Heat 2 TBS of butter in a medium skillet on low heat, add onions and a pinch of sugar and glaze the onions for 20 minutes, while occasionally stirring. They should have a nice brown color, but not be burned. This will take some time, most likely around 20minutes. Be patient and keep stirring.  Remove onions from skillet and keep warm. Melt another TBS of Butter and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in 100ml of Chicken Stock, 100g Sour Cream and add the Spaetzle, and cheese.

Tip: use half of the cheese first. Test if it is “cheesy” enough. You want to achieve a fine balance between the flavors of spaetzle, mushrooms and cheese. Add more cheese as needed. Stir in parsley and season with freshly ground salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Place into buttered oven-prove dish, sprinkle more cheese over it and bake at 200°C  (390°F) for 10 minutes or until you have a fragile, straw-golden cheese crust (not dark brown, and definitely not black).

Remove from oven and decorate with melted onion rings and a few sprigs of parsley or chervil.

It is easy being cheesy and unbelievably delicious. You will never go back to Mac&Cheese from a box!

And now:

http://www.witec-design.de/bilder/produkte/gross/WN001-Wandaufkleber-GUTEN-APPETIT-Wandtattoo-Kueche_b3.jpg