Don’t have the money to fly to Munich this fall to celebrate Oktoberfest? No problem! Just head to your local store, buy a six-pack of deliciously dark German beer, and try one of these traditional Oktoberfest recipes.
Simple Knackwurst and Sauerkraut
Don’t get your wursts confused: knackwurst (sometimes spelled knockwurst) is a short, thick German sausage made up of a mixture of pork and beef and flavored with garlic and other seasonings. Serve it up with a side of sauerkraut for a taste of real Oktoberfest food.
2 cups sauerkraut
Talk about an easy meal to prepare. Simply add a layer of sauerkraut to the bottom of a skillet and top with knackwurst. Cover with a lid and simmer 35 minutes until knackwursts are cooked through. This recipe serves 2-4 people, but add more of each ingredient to feed a larger crowd.
If you’re an adventurous do-it-yourselfer, try making your own sauerkraut to go with your favorite Oktoberfest foods. Just make sure to start before October, as the fermentation process takes a little time.
2 whole cabbages
2 tablespoons sea salt or kosher salt (something non-iodized)
Slice your cabbage into thin strips and place in a bowl. Break up the cabbage with your hands, sprinkle in the salt, and mix the salt and cabbage together. Using your fists or some other blunt instrument, squash the salty cabbage down in a ceramic fermenting crock (like this one LINK) until it is packed tightly and some cabbage juice starts to come out.
Cover your crock with either a the specially-fitted lid that came with your crock, or a plate that fits the opening of the crock. Using a rock (well-washed and boiled to sterilize it) or some other heavy object, weigh down the lid of your crock so it presses down on the cabbage.
After a day or so, the salt and water from the cabbage will make a brine, which should rise above the lid. When the scum is exposed to air, it might get a little funky and moldy-looking. This will look gross, but don’t panic – it’s called bloom, and it’s totally normal. Just skim it off, throw it away.
Taste your sauerkraut in about a week. If it’s not tangy enough for you, let it ferment longer. If the taste is to your liking, transfer your homemade sauerkraut to a clean mason jar and store it in the fridge. It’ll taste great with knackwurst, on a hot dog, or topping a pork chop.
Weiner Schnitzel, aka Viennese Cutlet, is a traditional Austrian dish that’s popular during Oktoberfest and simple to make at home. If you aren’t a veal fan, you can substitute chicken or pork cutlets. This recipe serves two.
2 veal cutlets
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup bread crumbs
lard (for frying)
Pound out your cutlets evenly so that they’re both a quarter-inch thick. You can use wax paper or plastic wrap (a layer under and over the meat) and a can of veggies to do the pounding, if you’re like me and don’t own a meat mallet.
Next, heat oil in a heavy-duty skillet (cast iron is always good) to 350 degrees. Add enough lard (or another kind of oil if you prefer) to the pan to float the meat. You did know that this was a deep-fried dish, right?
Mix your flour and salt and coat both sides of the meat. Dip in egg and then in breadcrumbs. Don’t press the breadcrumbs into the meat – they should just form a loose coating. Carefully set the meat into the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, making sure that the meat isn’t sticking to the pan. If it does, you’ll lose your coating.
Drain on paper towels and serve immediately after with a salad or some sort of potato dish. You can also serve your weiner schnitzel with noodles for another variation of this popular Oktoberfest meal.
German Chocolate Brownies
What homemade Oktoberfest meal would be complete without a delicious dessert? Try this German-inspired variation on traditional chocolate brownies.
1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slowly melt chocolate chips and butter in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid scorching the chips. When the chocolate is melted, add the remaining ingredients and stir just until mixed.
Pour brownie batter into a 13×9 inch pan and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. While the brownies are still warm, frost with Old-Fashioned German Chocolate Frosting (below).
Old-Fashioned German Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
3 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
In a large saucepan, mix the evaporated milk, sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla. Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over low heat until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in the chopped pecans and coconut. Spread on cake while still warm and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
Oktoberfest is a long-standing celebration rich with tradition and great food. Celebrate this holiday of German heritage and fellowship by inviting a bunch of friends over and serving them your own homemade, traditional German recipes.