Yes yes, we all love bleating on about how lovely pizza is, or curry, or how chorizo manages to improve every single dish it is added to by 400%, but I feel that the appreciation for German food is somewhat lacking – what’s not to love about Bratwurst? Take a sausage, make it meatier and double the size, then smother it in pickles and mustard – super tasty and as sturdy as Angela Merkel’s haircut.
I’m lucky enough to have several German friends in Bristol, plus of course fellow SaucyPans contributor Lia is from the land of Deutsch. I used this and the fact that I have a Belarussian housemate as an excuse to get people to make tasty food from their home countries and bring it to my kitchen table; the idea being that not only do I get served lovely authentic and tasty food, but I also get to keep the leftovers for the lunches and midnight snacks – everyone’s a winner.
Das Multi Kulti Fest (do you like my culturally sensitive name for our gathering?) was a resounding success, and I’d recommend you do something similar with your friends. I’ve taken the liberty of listing the recipes for the main dishes that were brought along so that you have the option of creating your own feast.
Frikadellen (German meatballs)
500 g pork mince
1 small soft roll
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp dried herbs
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chopped parsley (can be dried)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Soak the roll in some water and set aside. Now chop the onion finely, then mix with the mince, garlic, spices, mustard and crack in the egg too – don’t use a mixer, this is all best done by hand. Now take the roll out of the water, squeeze out all liquid, and break apart in to as small pieces as you can and throw into the mix – stir well.
Once you’re happy that all the ingredients are evenly distributed, start forming the mix in to balls the size of your palm. Flatten them slightly, then heat some oil or good butter in a pan on a high heat and slowly add the patties – cooking them for 2-3 mins on each side – this should give them a nice brown seal. Then chuck them in the oven to cook through for a further 15 minutes.
Milli’s Kartoffelsalat (German Potato Salad)
1 kg boiled potatoes
2 tsp mustard
3 tsp sugar
100 ml pickle juice
50 ml white wine vinegar
100 ml sunflower oil (or mild olive oil if you prefer)
1 Granny Smith apple
4 medium-sized pickled gherkins/pickled cucumbers, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch of spring onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to season
Cook the potatoes in salted water. Whilst you’re waiting for them to cook, mix the mustard, sugar, pickle juice, vinegar, oil and salt & pepper with the chopped onion and garlic in a big (non reactive) mixing bowl, then leave to marinate.
Now peel and chop the apple in to medium slices, then slice the pickles in to small-ish chunks. Once the potatoes are cooked, peel them and chop in to medium chunks and mix with the pickles, apple and add to the bowl.
With everything chucked in together, it should look like there is a little too much liquid – this is fine, you want to give the salad at least 3-4 hours to marinate anyway, overnight is even better – ensured it is well mixed before putting it in the fridge. Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped spring onions onto the mix and give another stir.
Sauerkraut (Pickled Cabbage)
Ahh, next to the sausage, I think we can all agree that sauerkraut is the most stereotypical thing a German could eat or is imagined to eat. Every day.
While I try and fight off stereotypes as much as I can sometimes, I cannot deny how much I love sauerkraut. As a side, on top of a sausage (to cover it all in one go) it’s delicious and moreish.
The problem I do see however when sauerkraut is served in the UK is that it is served straight out of the jar and more often than not, cold. Tasting cold, unseasoned sauerkraut is not pleasant, it’s too sharp and you can’t imagine how anyone would really eat this in huge amounts and guess what, they don’t. Not in Germany anyway.
So here is my recipe for Sauerkraut, the stuff that I know and love has been cooked with some onions, a bay leaf, pepper, salt, red wine and most importantly: sugar.
300g Sauerkraut from the jar
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
splash of red wine
Fry onion gently in some butter or oil until softened. Add the wine and cook for about a minute. Add the Sauerkraut and sugar and mix thoroughly (it depends on how sweet/sharp you like it, add more sugar if you want it even mellower and prefer the sweet and sour taste). Add a bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste, cover it and gently cook it on low heat for 10 mins.
Serve with some sausages and potato salad (see above!)
If you’re looking for other German recipes, check out Lia’s other recipes: