So, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, I made a kick ass German spread for some friends, who loved it so much they ate everything and I had no leftovers for lunch the next day. The bad news is, there was a long, complicated phone mishap and I lost all my pictures from said German feast! Yes, I take all my food pictures on my phone and last week I was punished for it. So, I will still talk about my German week, but sadly there are no pictures to accompany my experiences. I did make homemade soft pretzels and they were so delicious that I will attempt to make them again this week and get some pictures of them at that point.
We all have our own ideas about German food. This is another country whose cuisine doesn’t need too much explanation, we all have very distinct ideas about German food, and I have to be honest, I didn’t get too creative. I had the homemade sausage, I made pretzels, and also some sauerbraten. I also made a beer cheese dip, since everything German has to have a surplus of beer, and as opposed to just boiling the sausage like I did for Polish week, I cooked them with peppers and onions in beer. I have since been told by my boss, who is Austrian, that this method of cooking sausage is not German at all, but in fact, Polish (oops!), but since smoking the sausage was not an option and my grill is not quite working with its A-game, I stand by my decision.
I pan seared the sausage and then put it in a pot. Leaving the sausage bits in the pan, I added the beer and the onion and pepper strips and sautéed them. Once they had softened a little I added them to the pot with the sausage. Added more beer, I then brought it to a boil and then covered the pot turning down the heat so that it would cook at a very low boil.
I started the sauerbraten and pretzels earlier in the morning since the pretzel dough needs a few hours to rise and I cooked the sauerbraten in my crock pot. Sauerbraten is basically German pot roast. I took a piece of beef and marinated it in some garlic, onions, allspice, red wine, salt, pepper and water. You can marinate the meat for a few days to really tenderize it, but I just left mine over night. Then the next day I added onions, potato cubes, and chopped carrots to the crock pot and rested the beef on top. I poured in all of the marinade mixture and then added more wine and water to completely cover everything and finished it off with a bay leaf and let cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
The pretzel dough is just water, sugar, and salt mixed with yeast. Let this combo sit for about 5 minutes and once it starts to foam a little you can add the flour and butter. Once everything is combined, I kneaded the dough until it was nice and smooth and just a little elastic, then let it sit in a warm place with plastic wrap over the bowl and let it rise. I left it for about 4 hours, but you just need to let it double in size or more. Once the dough was nice and fluffy, you beat it down and knead it again. I then cut it into pretty even chunks (the size of the chunks will depend on how big you want to make the pretzels) and then rolled each into a rope of less than 2 cm in diameter. You can shape the pretzels however you want, but I went traditional since they look so pretty. Let the formed pretzels sit for a little bit to allow them to rise a little more. Now, really authentic pretzels should be boiled in water and lye, but I went the safer route of putting baking soda in the water and bringing that to a boil. Drop the pretzels in one at a time and leave them for just a few seconds, maybe 5 or so. Then fish them out and place on a baking sheet and brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Then bake at 450˚F for about 15-20 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
Then the cheese dip was just cream cheese, beer, and shredded chedder cheese and I just let that simmer until it was hot and thick. don’t add too much beer or your dip will be too thin. Of course when I set everything out, I also put out mustard, horseradish, and sauerkraut. In terms of creative or complicated, it was one of my more lackluster meals, but I feel like that is what German food is: hearty, simple, and delicious!