Chuck Dressler offered many great recipes his 2011 Talk of the Table column, ending all his articles with his trademark “As always, enjoy the cookin’ and then the eatin’!”
In October, Chuck Dressler wrote: “The hint of autumn in the air can only mean it’s time for everyone’s favorite German celebration, Oktoberfest.” He offered recipes from Best of German Cooking by Edda Meyer-Berkhout and from his mother-in-law, a native German.
- As many bratwurst as are needed to “feed the crowd”
- Kaiser or Po-Boy rolls to match the bratwurst
- Vegetable oil or margarine – I prefer the oil
- Chopped onions
- Pre-heated grill
Most folks don’t know that before slapping the bratwurst on the grill, you should boil them gently in water for a few minutes to prevent them from bursting on the grill. I prefer to boil them in beer, which has the same effect. But don’t go using any good German beer for this. Use some American beer.
Place the boiled sausages in a bowl of milk. The sucrose in the milk will cause the sausages to turn golden brown when grilled.
Soak 2 to 3 minutes in milk, drain well, and brush the sausages with oil or melted margarine.
Place the sausages 5 inches from the heat and grill until browned. Don’t grill them too long or on too hot a grill or they will burst anyway and then you will have wasted time and beer and will end up with unattractive bratwurst.
Serve with plenty of chilled (not ice cold!) good German beer.
WIESN HENDL (Oktoberfest Chicken) 2 to 4 servings
- 1 whole chicken, about 2-3 lbs.
- 8 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided 4, 3 and 1
- 1 bunch fresh parsley – I prefer Italian parsley as it adds a bit more flavor
- 2 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
Preheat the grill to between 400-425 F.
Remove the gizzard and giblets package from the chicken (yes, some people forget to do this) and thoroughly rinse and dry the chicken. Rub the chicken evenly over the outside with 4 tablespoons of the softened butter.
Mix the salt and pepper and rub on both the inside and outside of the chicken spreading the mixture evenly. Don’t rub hard enough as to wipe off the butter.
Rinse the parsley with running water and dry. Make sure the parsley is dry before you chop it! If you have a salad spinner this is a good time to use it. Chop the fresh parsley and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add it to the parsley, mix evenly, and stuff the mixture into the chicken.
Put the chicken on the rotisserie spit or place it breast-side up in a disposable roasting pan. If using a rotisserie, you need a drip pan to catch the juices to use in basting the bird.
Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the chicken starts to become golden brown. This will vary based on the size of the chicken. Without a rotisserie cook for 30 minutes, basting with the juices every 15 minutes; then turn the bird over breast-side down, and repeat the basting. Repeat again if needed. Or with a rotisserie, keep basting with the juices every 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes before the end of the cooking time coat the bird with the remaining 3 tablespoons of softened butter.
To check if the chicken is ready, stick a skewer or the point of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the leg or use an instant meat thermometer by checking the thickest part of the leg for 150 – 160 F. The juices should run clear.
Cut the chicken in half down the breastbone and serve half a portion each. For lighter eaters, quarter the chicken and let people argue over who gets the breast and who gets the thigh.
Serve with plenty of chilled (not ice cold!) good German beer.
GEDUNSTETES SAUERKRAUT (Braised Sauerkraut) 4 to 6 servings
- 2 pounds. sauerkraut
- 1 ¼ cup lard, cooking fat or vegetable shortening (bacon drippings work well if you have any leftover from that Spicy Seafood Gumbo recipe from March )
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin or caraway seeds
- Salt and sugar to taste (I like ½ teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- White wine, if desired
- Piece of smoked pork, 1 pork hock or 1 smoked pork sausage
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Sauerkraut needs to be rinsed only if it has been stored in a barrel; rinsing reduces the bitter taste. Since most of us will get canned or packaged sauerkraut (I prefer packaged found in the refrigerated section near the lunchmeat), simply drain.
In a large skillet, melt the lard, fat, shortening or bacon drippings. Add the chopped onion and sauté lightly. Add sauerkraut, cumin or caraway seeds, salt, sugar, and chicken stock. The dish will be greatly enhanced if a little white wine is added.
Add the piece of smoked pork, pork hock or smoked pork sausage on top.
Simmer about an hour over low heat. Allow less time for canned or packaged sauerkraut.
Thicken the liquid produced during cooking by adding the cornstarch.
Serve with bratwurst or chicken and plenty of chilled (not ice cold!) good German beer.
ROTKOHL (Red Cabbage)
- 2 small heads of red cabbage
- 3 tablespoons of lard, cooking fat or vegetable shortening or those bacon drippings mentioned above
- 6 tart cooking apples (Granny Smith, Jonagold, Jonathan, or Pippin)
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar – I like to use apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 -7 mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Flour for thickening
My mother-in-law always fixes her Rotkohl in a pressure cooker. I think it comes out fine in a regular Dutch oven pot.
Cut up the red cabbage and shred it. You only want the leaves and not the white core. A food processor and slicing disk speeds this process. Core, peel and slice the apples into wedges. Softer apples need to be in bigger slices otherwise they will “disappear” while cooking.
Add the lard, cooking fat, vegetable shortening, or bacon drippings to a Dutch oven and heat to melt. Add the cabbage, apples, water and then the vinegar. The vinegar is key, as it will ensure that the red cabbage stays red. Add the bay leaves and mustard seeds; stir.
Cover and simmer for 2 - 3 hours, or until the cabbage is tender but not soft. Add the sugar and salt just before serving. If the broth is runny, mix the flour with a little broth and then stir that into the apple/cabbage mixture.
Serve with the bratwurst or chicken and plenty of chilled (not ice cold!) good German beer.