Welcome to my second entry in the Project Food Blog competition. After you laugh hysterically and savor the thought of every delicious morsel of this recipe, click here to vote for me…starting Monday, September 27th.
This time of year, while the rest of the world is gearing up for apple picking and pumpkin patches, and the excitement of carving jack-o-lanterns and Trick-or-Treating, I can think of one thing, and one thing only:
That’s right. I said ROCK-toberfest. While many of you have heard of Oktoberfest, celebrated in Germany (and bars throughout the world) beginning on the first Saturday following September 15th each year, then extending over two weeks into October…there is a decidedly more insanely fabulous celebration that happens all over the world in underground channels, for those “in the know” (typically pop stars and glam gods). It is the celebration of music and food and the awesomely fantastic way in which they make life better.
—Um. Sarah. How do YOU know about it? You are in no way what one might call “hip” or “cool.”
You might notice that while I have cooked and concocted recipes the world over, from Asia to India to South America to Spain, there is a glaring lack of a certain type of European cuisine in my repertoire. And there is a reason for it. See, what I’ve been trying to hide from y’all all this time is something that my students figured out a little while ago:Yes. It’s true. I may be a teacher by day….but by night…
I’m sorry to have kept my true identity from you for so long, but I just couldn’t keep it hidden any longer. With ROCK-toberfest right around the corner, I knew it was time to share the cheerful, beer-ful celebration of rock and rolls (preferably rye or pumpernickel) with you.
I’ve known this forever. In fact, my first cooking lesson when something like this:
Dad: OK, Sarah, the most important thing to remember is to simmer your brats in beer, with onions, for about 20-30 minutes.
Six-year-old Me: Then what?
Dad: Then grill ‘em. And eat ‘em. With pickles. And potatoes. It’s the German way.
Clearly I was being groomed from a young age to acclimate to Germanic customs so that I would easily infiltrate the musical scene.
So, I really could end my post there. I’ve given away the secrets. Boil your brats in beer, and go heavy on the ‘kraut and caraway.
But, although that simple recipe may be standard fare in Germany for Oktoberfest…it’s time to learn what you eat to celebrate ROCK-toberfest!
*Totally deserves an exclamation point, but I feel like I’ve used up my quota already.
The best thing about this recipe? Although in true German form it is hearty and basic in preparation (you don’t have to measure anything), it’s raised to the elevated rock star status of creative enlightenment.
After the onions have caramelized, remove them from their pan and set aside. Into the onion skillet, add the bratwurst crumbles, and brown ‘em up.
Instead of adding oil, add a heavy glug of BEER!
While the brats are cooking, you can chop up about 1/4 of a large green apple…
…and grate up your cheese. You’ll want about 3 cups or so total, but really, it’s up to you how cheesy you like it. [And if you like my blog, I know you love cheese. And I don't mean the edible kind.]
I used a combination of Smoked Fontina and Jarlsberg….
…as well as some good ol’ Mozzarella, but you can use any one of these alone, or add some other fun cheese…perhaps a sharper Swiss, or a Wisconsin cheddar?
You’ll also need a can of tomato sauce…
…and some mustard. (Any type will do, really, but I mean…this one was just begging to be used.)
Now that you’ve got all of your topping ingredients ready, take out your favorite pizza crust. You can use your favorite recipe, or purchase a hunk of whole wheat dough from your grocery store, or the prepared foods section of Whole Foods or Central Market.
Just make sure they do actually give you pizza dough. Not pork egg rolls.Hilarious. The cashier sort of tilted her head like a puppy questioning you for a bone and said, “huh?”
Spread out your crust on a baking sheet, pizza pan, or pizza stone, should you be so lucky to have one. [Make sure to spray the sheet with cooking spray first.]This is no time to worry about making a perfect circle. Homemade pizza begs for creative artistry.
Tip from the Whole Foods pizza department: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and then par-bake the crust just until it starts to rise (about 3-5 minutes), THEN add your toppings. This will reduce the sog-effect.
Get a little saucy with your pizza…
Then dollop on some mustard, and smooth it around with a spoon.
(My genius comment? “Looks like ketchup and mustard!” Um. Right. Because it IS, essentially.)
A layer of cheese…followed by the caramelized onions.
Then the apples, brats, and more cheese!10-15 minutes in that superhot oven, and you will be sweating in your kitchen, but at least you’ll have THIS deliciousness to wash down with a cold brewski.
*Did I really just say brewski?
1 “hunk” of prepared whole wheat pizza crust dough
1 small, or 1/4 of a large, green apple, diced
3 links bratwurst, casings removed
1/2 bottle of German beer (or any type really)
1 large sweet onion
3 cups grated cheese, preferably a blend of (smoked) fontina, Jarlsberg, and mozzarella
1/2 cup or so (to your liking) of tomato sauce
Mustard, preferably stone ground or horseradish
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2. Coat your baking sheet with cooking spray and press out dough.
3. Caramelize onions by sauteeing them in olive oil over low-to-medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
4. Remove onions from pan and set aside. Into the same pan, brown the brats, pouring beer over them when halfway cooked through and simmering until done.
5. Par-bake the pizza crust for 3-5 minutes until just starting to rise. Remove from oven.
6. Spread out tomato sauce onto crust. Top with dollops of mustard and mix in with the back of a spoon.
7. Top sauce with about 1/2 of the grated cheese, followed by the onions, bratwurst meat, and diced apples. Cover with remaining cheeses.
8. Cook for 10-15 minutes until cheese and crust are browned.
9. Eat. Preferably with a nice cold beer to wash it down.
OK. You caught me. There is clearly a salad of some sort on that plate.
This is The Smart Kitchen, and you know I can’t make a plate without something green on it (and the green apples on the pizza don’t count, even if all the food groups ARE represented), I did concoct a fresher take on saurkraut, using a number of traditional German flavors, for a healthy, crisp accompaniment.
I call it Apfelkraut Slaw, which is a horrific internet-based translation into German of Apple-Cabbage Slaw. But you know, whatever. It’s fun to say.
You’ll need one small head of green cabbage and one large green apple.
Coarsely chop up the cabbage…
…and dice up the apple.
Combine together in a large mixing bowl. (And I know it is impossible, but I swear cabbage expands as soon as you cut into it…so make sure you have a big ‘ol bowl.)
Then, combine about 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, with about 1/4-1/3 of a cup apple cider, and 2-3 tsp. of mustard in a small bowl.
Pour over the cabbage and apple mixture, and stir well to combine.
Then, get out some dried dill…
…and the scent and flavor of delicious German rye bread: caraway seeds.
Sprinkle about 2 tsp. of dill weed and 3 tsp. of caraway seeds over the slaw, and toss well.
If you don’t like rye bread, you will definitely not want to put the caraway seeds in there. I, for one, love the flavor, and therefore find this a very intriguing concoction because you feel like you are simultaneously eating a delicious sweet salad and freshly baked bread. [It would be just as good with only dill, however.]
1 small head of lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 large green apple, diced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/3 cup apple cider
2-3 tsp. stone ground or horseradish mustard
3 tsp. dried dill weed
2-3 tsp. caraway seed
1. Combine cabbage and apples in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine vinegar, cider, and mustard. Whisk well and pour over slaw.
3. Stir to coat.
4. Sprinkle dill and caraway over slaw. Stir well to combine.
5. Sprinkle more dill and caraway over the slaw for pretty presentation, if desired.
Clearly there is only one thing left to do:
Whisk microphone? Totally necessary.