Oktoberfest began as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. The event has grown considerably since then, across the seas to many nations. The basic theme centers around German foods and beer of all types. Even non-drinkers and non-alcoholic areas celebrate and have fun; there are many other beverages to choose from when celebrating a one-of-a-kind Octoberfest. Following are five of my favorite German foods, which can be served with the recommended beer pairing. If sodas and juice are the beverage of choice, please select light sodas, such as Sprite and 7-Up, and apple, white grape, and white cranberry with peach, juices.
German Potato Casserole
5 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 lb sliced bacon, diced
8 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 – ½ cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 pound process cheese (such as Velveeta), cubed
1. Place potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 1 tbsp drippings.
2. In a large bowl, gently toss the potatoes, bacon, eggs, onion, salt, and pepper. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and reserved bacon drippings; add to potato mixture and toss to coat.
3. Divide half of the mixture between one greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish and 1 9-in. square baking dish. Top with half of the cheese cubes. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35 – 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven.
This makes a great potluck meal, also.
Pair with Oktober Fest-marzen, a seasonal beer available during Oktoberfest season in the U.S. It is a rich lager with a malty bouquet and a hint of sweetness. It has lots of flavor; the deep amber-gold color entices a sip or more. Like many Oktoberfest brews, the alcohol content is 5.6% by volume. Several dedicated yearly fest shoppers assured me that classic Bavarian style beer is not particularly bitter, but always thirst quenching.
Ayinger Brewery, founded in 1878 in the Bavarian village of Aying, brews Oktober Fest-marzen, considered to be one of the most highly respected Marzens in the world today.
2 lbs fresh bratwurst sausages
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup better
6 (12 fluid ounce) cans or bottles beer
1 -1/2 tsp ground black pepper
10 hoagie rolls
1. Prick bratwurst with fork to prevent them from exploding as they cook. Place in a large stockpot with the onions, butter, and beer. Place pot over medium heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
3. Lightly oil grate. Cook bratwurst on preheated grill for 10 – 14 minutes, turning occasionally to brown evenly. Serve hot off the grill with onions on hoagie rolls.
Pair with Hacker Pschorr Weisse, a wheat beer with a distinctive, refreshing taste. Yeast retained in wheat beer causes a cloudy appearance. The beginning slightly spicy fragrance and smooth taste grows slightly bitter towards the end, which is caused by the sediment. It is still a pleasing beer from start to finish. Hacker-Pschorr brewery, located in Munich, Germany, has been brewing beer since 1417. A wedding in 1793 combined the Pschorr and Hacker breweries. Underground storage facilities were built, allowing beer to be made year round.
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 pork steaks or cutlets, pounded thin
1 egg, beaten
1 medium onion, diced
1 (8 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1-1/2 cups water
1 cube beef bouillon
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup sour cream
1. In a shallow dish, mix the bread crumbs and flour; season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the egg in a separate dish.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dip pork steaks in egg, then coat with the bread crumb mixture. Fry in the hot oil and cook until lightly browned.
4. Pour in water and dissolve the bouillon cube. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
5. Stir together the cornstarch and sour cream; stir into the skillet. Cook over low heat until thickened, but do not boil.
6. Spoon over the pork cutlets and serve immediately.We found out that Jagerschnitzel is even better when served with a tossed green salad.
Pair with Lowenbrau Oktoberfestbier, which comes in a 5-liter keg. It is a light amber lager brewed in the best Bavarian tradition. A special malt is used for this seasonal beer, giving it a slightly fruity fragrance, and smooth taste all the way to the finish. Lowenbrau’s history dates back to 1383 when the innkeeper at Zum Lowen (the Lion’s Inn) began brewing his own beer. Almost destroyed during World War II and the period thereafter, when Germany was split into sections, the brewery rebuilt both buildings and public acceptance to once again become a respected name in the making of beer.
Red Cabbage and German Sausage
1/3-cup canola oil
4 tbsp sugar
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup chicken broth
1 head red cabbage, sliced and cored
2 medium Fuji or Gala apples, peeled, sliced, and seeded
½ lemon, juiced
½ tsp caraway seeds
4 whole cloves
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 pound Hans authentic German brat sausage, or your favorite variety.
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add sugar and cook until dark brown.
2. This mixture is very hot! Carefully add onions and cook 5 to 10 minutes until well browned. Add garlic, cook 2 more minutes. Deglaze with red wine vinegar.
3. Add chicken broth, cabbage, apples, lemon juice, caraway seeds, cloves, and black pepper. Cover and cook 30 – 45 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.
4. While cabbage is cooking, prepare sausage, using package directions.
5. Season cabbage to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked sausage.
Pair with Samuel Adams Oktoberfest, Boston Beer Company, U.S.A. Oktoberfest is a sweet, malty, seasonable beer. The caramel fragrance hints at the light mouth-feel at the beginning. Very flavorful, with a ruby amber color, it is crisp and refreshing. It compares quite favorably to the German beers, with a refreshing hops taste at the end. The Boston Beer Company, located in Boston, Massachusetts, began in 1984 when founder and brewer Jim Koch found an ancestor’s recipe for brewing beer in the attic. Opening under the inspirational thought that Americans would like a quality American variety of beer, they have captured .5 percent of the U.S. beer market and have 21 different varieties of beer.
1-pound ground beef
¼ cup milk
¼ cup breadcrumbs
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground allspice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cub beef broth
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp ground ginger
8 ounces wide egg noodles
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1. Combine ground beef, milk, breadcrumbs, cloves, allspice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently until well combined. Form into 2-inch round meatballs.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until hot, but not smoking. Brown meatballs a few at a time (don’t crowd them) on all sides for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Drain fat from skillet.
4. Add stock, vinegar, brown sugar, bay leaf, and ginger, scraping the bottom to remove any browned bits. Return meatballs to pan in a single layer. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions, drain.
6. Mix together flour and melted butter, and set aside. Remove meatballs from pan and keep warm.
7. Whisk flour mixture into sauce and cook, stirring frequently, at least 4 minutes, until thickened. Serve sauce over meatballs on a bed of pasta.
Pair with Schneider Weisse, which has a liquid amber color streaked with fine, top-fermented yeast. It is amber in color, with a fruity taste. The fragrance is spicy, with the aroma of clove, nutmeg, and apple. When it hits the mouth, it tastes fresh and clean. It ends with a light, delicate taste of bitters, leaving a sour impression. Schneider Weisse is the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria. I found one website in German, with an incredible graphic of a keg sitting on a two-wheeled cart, with wings and awards abounding around the Schneider Weisse. This indicates it is good, if one is hesitant to try it. Searching further, though, I found an incredible website for Schneider Weisse, which you can find here. It is one of the best sites I have seen. The Schneiders are proud of their family, their name, and their beer.
Enjoy the celebration.
Dana Luburgh, German Potato Casserole
Bob Cody, Wisconsin Bratwurst
Hans, Red Cabbage and German Sausage
Whole Foods Market, Sauerbraten meatballs
Schneider Weisse (German website)
Schneider Weisse (English website)