Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oktoberfest: Sauerkraut and Brats

I'm keeping my first batch of Oktoberfest grub simple. Sauerkraut and bratwursts, or wurstels, depending on your mood, with some homemade beer-based mustard. You'll have a decent batch of kraut leftover that will be great for hot dogs or potato pancakes. The mustard is made with a Belgian beer and just a hint of caraway--the idea was to try to create some competition for one of my favorite wurst condiments, Senf (mustard, but with more awesome). My favorite in particular is the Austrian Mautner Markhof Senf (mild or spicy)--hands down it's still my favorite, but the Oktoberfest mustard I made is also pretty darn good, and it's a little more accessible.

German Style Sauerkraut (mit Speck)

2 strips of bacon, chopped
1 medium white potato, shredded
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 24 oz jar sauerkraut (Bavarian style, or regular)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
2-3 cups cold water (depending on how much "juice" you want)
about 2 Tbsp Beer vinegar* (or white vinegar)
olive oil for sauteing

1. Rinse the sauerkraut in a colander, let drain.
2. Cut the bacon strips into small pieces and cook until they become crispy bits. Set aside and reserve bacon grease.
3. Meanwhile, saute onion in a little olive oil and cook about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add a tsp or two of the bacon grease and stir in the bacon bits.
4. Add ingredients shredded potato through water, let simmer with the lid on for about 25 minutes.
5. Add vinegar to taste, simmer half covered for about 40 minutes. Serve with sausages and mustard, and maybe a soft pretzel if you happen to have one around.
As with most things, it tastes even better the next day.
*I like to add beer vinegar to my sauerkraut, homemade mustard, and potato salad, but you can always sub in white wine vinegar if necessary. I think the beer vinegar gives it a better flavor and adds more depth.

"Oktoberfest" Mustard (Senf)

5 oz Leffe beer (or other strong German/Belgian Ale)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar or beer vinegar
1/2 cup brown mustard seed
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp onion powder
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
pinch of caraway seed
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand overnight or about 24 hours. In a food processor, blend until the desired consistency is reached.
If you're blending until smooth, you may want an ounce or two more liquid, as the mustard tends to get a little drier the longer you blend. A little extra beer never hurt anything.

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