Oktoberfest & Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard

Beer_Stein_01The calendar may say September but it’s the final days of Oktoberfest in Munich. Oktoberfest in September? What’s up with that? Well, the original Oktoberfest actually was in October but as the party expanded from one week to three, it pushed its way into September.

Perhaps you remember your first Oktoberfest. The sun was bright and warm that afternoon. With a festive air, you and your buddies gathered in the beer garden at the Hofbräuhaus to eat and drink, laugh and sing. It was all quite jolly.

If you’re lucky, you still have a few stained and raggle-taggled cardboard coasters you nicked from the Hofbräuhaus for a souvenir. If you’re not so lucky, you have a dirndl or pair of lederhosen, hopefully not both, as a memento of the day. One or both sits in the back of your closet, a not so subtle reminder to never drink and shop. Not a total loss, the dirndl came in handy at a pirate party back in 1992. The lederhosen are always good for a last minute Halloween costume. If only you had the nerve to wear them!

Let this be the year to drag out that dirndl, put together a fine collection of great beers and brush up on your chicken dance. Create your own fun and festive Volksfest. Fill your garden with singing and camaraderie, simple food and great beer. If it turns cold or rainy, just bring the fun indoors.

There are lots of great microbreweries in New England. Splurge and try a couple. Experiment with a beer tasting. Instead of huge beer steins, like the ones you had at the Hofbräuhaus, use shot glasses for a tasting. Explore ales and lagers, wheat beers, stouts, porters and bitters with a small sip or two of each until you find a favorite. Then, fill up a frosty mug.

Along with the tasting, sing a few songs and maybe play a little football. And by football, I mean soccer. We may call it soccer in the U.S. but the Germans call it football and most are über-fans. Much to their delight, Germany won the World Cup this past summer, so a game would not be out of line. Besides, chasing a soccer ball around the yard will keep you warm as the day starts to cool off. Soccer not your thing? Well, how about some oompah music and a go at the chicken dance?

You’ll also want to haul out the grill for one last cookout, sausages, of course. Serve them as the main course with sauerkraut or coleslaw and potato salad and a slice of rye bread. Better yet, try my bite-sized sausages for a tasty appetizer. Since it gets chilly, if not downright cold, as soon as the sun starts to go down, be ready to move inside. A warm and cozy goulash will hit the spot for dinner.

So, what are you waiting for? Stockpile some microbrews, invite friends over for late afternoon and fire up the grill. Be sure to tell everyone to dress warmly and bring a favorite Oktoberfest story. And for those without an Oktoberfest tale? Any shopping disaster will do.

Enjoy the early autumn sunshine with your own version of the world’s biggest beerfest and bon appétit!

Homemade Bratwurst Bites with Horseradish Mustard
A hearty hors d’oeuvre for Oktoberfest or anytime. Enjoy!
Serves 8Bratwurst_Bites_Horseradish_Mustard_05

2-3 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
About 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/4 cup beer (more if cooking inside)
Olive oil if cooking inside
Horseradish Mustard

Put the sage, spices, onion and garlic in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the pork and beer and gently mix until combined. Cover and chill for several hours, preferably overnight.

Use a 1-tablespoon ice cream or cookie scoop to scoop up the sausage meat and gently roll into balls. Can be formed several hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.

To grill the sausage bites: preheat the grill to medium high. Arrange the sausage bites on the grill and grill, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

To cook inside: Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the sausage bites to the skillet. Cook the bites until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup beer and shaking the skillet a few times, continue cooking until the beer evaporates, a few minutes more.

Transfer the bratwurst bites to a large platter, add your favorite pretzels and serve with Horseradish Mustard. If you can find soft pretzels, or like to bake, give them a try.

Horseradish Mustard
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup whole grain mustard
1/4 cup prepared white horseradish, well drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon or to taste honey (optional)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to combine the flavors. Serve at room temperature.

Can be made ahead.

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Two Years Ago – Lemon Rice Cakes with Spinach & Manchego
Three Years Ago – Apple Crumb Cake
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Five Years Ago – Curried Eggplant Soup
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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your favorite Oktoberfest story? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

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Oktoberfest & Sausages with Sauerkraut

It’s time to frost your beer mugs, get out the oompah-pah-pah music and brush up on your chicken dance. It may still be September but it is time for Oktoberfest. Every year on a Saturday in late September, this famous Volksfest kicks off at noon with a twelve gun salute. The first keg of special Oktoberfest beer is then tapped with a rousing cry of “O’zapft is!” (“It’s tapped!”). And so begins sixteen days of singing and camaraderie; and lots and lots of beer.

The world famous beer festival started out as a wedding party for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1810. The wedding was held just outside Munich’s city gate in a picturesque meadow named for Therese. From its earliest days, Oktoberfest has been held in Theresienwiese or Therese’s field. However, I don’t think that Ludwig or Therese would recognize the huge, internationally renowned extravaganza which Oktoberfest has become. Like most things Oktoberfest has changed and evolved over the years.

The first Oktoberfest ran for five days, starting with the wedding and ending with a day at the races. The party now goes on for more than two weeks and the horse races are a thing of the past. But don’t despair; there is plenty of fun to be had at Oktoberfest. A full blown carnival can now be found on Theresienwiese with a full array of midway rides, Ferris wheels and games.

Weather can turn rainy in Bavaria in October so the practical Germans pushed the festival back into September to improve the chances of sunshine and clear skies. To avoid changing the name to Septemberfest, the fair ends on the first Sunday in October. This year Oktoberfest will be celebrated from the 20th of September through October 5th.

Munich is famous for its beers and the one constant at Oktoberfest has always been lots of beer. The largest and best know breweries have been nicknamed the Big Six and include Spaten, Löwenbräu, Augustiner, Hofbräu, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. Every year these Big Six Bavarian breweries create special brews for Oktoberfest and serve them in one liter steins. These steins have become collector’s items, prized by beer aficionados. They are made from heavy glass and decorated with the brewery’s logo.

And the Big Six offer more than beer. Traditional, hearty German fare is never in short supply at Oktoberfest. Soon after the first celebration, local breweries set up booths to sell beer and bratwurst. Over time these modest booths grew to become huge tents and pavilions. Today fourteen giant tents serve beer and food to merrymakers. You will have no trouble finding Bavarian specialties like sausages, sauerkraut and cheese noodles or roast chicken, ox tails and apple pancakes.

The anniversary party has grown significantly over the years. Celebrants from around the world now make their way to Munich to enjoy the huge Volksfest. Last year more than six million visitors quaffed their thirst with Oktoberfest beers. Throughout the day bands play traditional music and instill good cheer. Over steins of frosty pilsner, strangers become friends and everyone lifts their voice in song.

Why not celebrate Oktoberfest this year? From the state of Washington to Acadia, Maine, cities and towns across the United States will celebrate fall with Oktoberfest. Why not you? Dust off your beer steins or pilsner glasses. Regional brewers and microbreweries offer an interesting selection of beers to sample and enjoy. Pair them with traditional Bavarian fare like sausages, sauerkraut and a slice of hearty rye bread! Bring your friends together for a little beer, a little singing and maybe even a little chicken dancing. Have fun and,

Bon appétit!

Oktoberfest Sausages and Sauerkraut
Nothing says Oktoberfest like a beer with a sausage and a little sauerkraut. Add some mustard and a thick slice of hearty rye or country bread. Enjoy!
Serves 6

6 ounces smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
1 large onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced
1 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained
1 cup beer
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon gin
2 pounds kielbasa or bratwurst
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put the bacon in a large, heavy ovenproof Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until it releases enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onion to the bacon and sauté until onion is tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the sauerkraut to the pot and toss to combine. Add the beer, chicken stock, caraway seeds and gin and stir. Bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 1 hour.

3. Add the sausage to the pot and cover with sauerkraut. Cover and bake for an additional 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Re-warm over medium heat, stirring frequently.

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Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010