Anyway if I was still living in the Bay Area, I'd have a lot more opportunity to obtain recipes from people who have actually lived in the countries I write about. So I have to say that I was absolutely giddy about doing Germany, because one of the few people I know here in town (besides my husband) who wasn't born and raised in the US is my kids' German swim teacher.
|Oberbaumbrücke, Berlin. Photo Credit: Mathias Liebing.|
So in the tradition of Travel by Stove I have to start out by talking a little bit about Germany, which seems silly because most people know at least something about Germany—it's one of the major European nations. In fact Germany is the word's fourth-largest economy, a global leader in a number of technological and industrial sectors, and also the second-largest exporter of goods. Germans in general live very well—their country has a comprehensive social security system and a universal health care system that is the oldest in the world. Also, they have that one highway where there's no speed limit.
German food is good. If you don't believe me, ask the people who give out Michelin stars—with nine German restaurants receiving three stars (Michelin's highest designation) and 15 more with two stars, Germany is second only to France in the number of restaurants recognized in this way. So yeah, I had to get Germany right. Thank goodness for Ina. Here's the menu she gave me:
Bratwurst in Bier
(The recipe itself came from a German language recipe site called Kochbar)
- 4-6 bratwurst sausages
- 1 bottle malt beer
- 4 tbsp gingerbread sauce (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tbsp margarine
- Lemon juice
Next, the gingerbread sauce, otherwise known as Lebkuchensoße:
(This recipe also came from Kochbar)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 2 1/2 oz gingerbread
- 1 oz walnuts, crushed
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 chopped onions
- Black pepper
Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)(This one came from Ina's cookbook, entitled The New German Cookbook by Jean Anderson and Hedy Wurz)
- 1 3/4 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup corn oil
Apfelmus(I think this recipe is also from Kochbar, but I seem to have lost the source.)
- 2 lbs apples (I used Granny Smith)
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- Vanilla sugar
- 1 large jar sauerkraut
- 1 cube beef broth
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Dry white wine
- 1 apple, shredded (peel on)
- 1/2 tsp caraway seed (optional)
- 5 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
Now, as near as I can tell there are about 150 billion different ways to make gingerbread sauce, and they are all really, really different. This is one of the few I found that you don't make alongside some other dish (and hence from the juices of whatever you are cooking), so it's the one I went with. I had good results, but I don't really know if it was exactly correct. Anyway it's not difficult, and here's how:
Soak the gingerbread in the chicken stock for a few minutes, then add the walnuts and onions. Stir until the gingerbread breaks apart and you get a paste.
|Ew, not a very appetizing photo. Sorry.|
Now for the brats:
Prick the sausages first so they don't burst, then brown them on both sides.
Now if you're like me, you looked at this recipe and thought, "Hmm, if the milk doesn't curdle from the heat, it's going to curdle when I put the lemon juice in there." 'Cause you know, that's basically the recipe for paneer. But I did it anyway, because that's what the recipe said, and the milk curdled. It looked pretty awful so I banked on not really needing to have those curds in there and I strained the broth. My brats tasted awesome so I don't feel like it was the wrong move, but I still thought it was a bit strange.
Peel and core the apples. Roughly chop them and then put them in a large pot with the juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft.
Now the sauerkraut. Are you tired yet?
In a large pot, lightly brown the bacon, then add the onions and apple. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes.
Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the onion, flour and salt. Mix with your hands until well incorporated.
Now I haven't had a ton of experience with sauerkraut but this was by far the best I've ever had. The bacon gave it some subtle smokiness and the wine just made it taste, you know, freaking yummy.
And the pancakes—I was really afraid I was making too many of them but there was not a pancake remaining by the time the meal was over. Topped with the applesauce they were really delicious. Like really, really delicious. My kids ate them in spite of the onions, which is really saying something.
Now yes, this was not a very diet-friendly meal. Oh no. I think I gained a pound just cooking it. But I would do this whole meal again, maybe in celebration of losing a bunch of weight or something (haha). This is definitely worthy of another evening-with-friends or just a nice once-in-a-while meal.
It's great when I find a gem, but even better when the whole meal is a gem!
Next week: Ghana
For printable versions of this week's recipes:
- Bratwurst in Bier
- Lebkuchensoße (Gingerbread Sauce)
- Kartoffelpuffer (Potato Pancakes)
- Apfelmus (Applesauce)
- Ina's Sauerkraut