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Thursday, April 8, 2010

German Cuisine

German Cuisine
When people think of Germany at this time of the year usually Oktoberfest comes to mind and people drinking beer and eating lots of sausages and sauerkraut. The main varieties of meat consumed in Germany are pork, beef and poultry with pork being the most popular. The average person in Germany consumes up to 72 pounds of meat a year. Chicken is most common but duck, goose and turkey are also eaten. Game meats such as boar, rabbit, and venison are also widely popular. Also available but not as popular are lamb and goat.

Meat is usually pot-roasted but pan-fried dishes also exit but these are usually imports from France. Popular are sausages. There is said to be more than 1500 different types of sausage in Germany. Breakfast (Fruhstuck) consists of bread, toast, and/or bread rolls with jam, marmalade or honey, eggs and strong coffee or tea (milk, cocoa or juice for children). Deli meats such as ham, salted meats and salami are also commonly eaten on bread in the morning as well as various cheeses and a variety of meat-based spreads such as Leberwurst (liver-sausage).

Traditionally the main meal of the day has been lunck (Mittagessen) eaten around noon. Dinner (Abendessen or Abendbrot) was always a smaller meal, often consisting only of a variety of breads, meat or sausages, cheese and some kind of vegetables, similar to breakfast or possibly sandwiches. However, in Germany, as in other parts of Europe, dining habits have changed over the last 50 years. Today many people eat only a small meal during the middle of the day and a hot dinner in the evening with family.

The most common freshwater fish is trout but pike, carp and European perch as also enjoyed. Today many fish from the sea such as fresh herring, sardine, tuna, mackerel and salmon are well liked throughout the country. Prior to the industrial revolution and the ensuing pollution of rivers, salmon were common in the rivers Rhine, Elbe, and Oder.

Vegetables are commonly eaten in stews or vegetable soup but can also be served as a side dish. Carrots, turnips, spinach, peas, beans and many types of cabbage are very common. Fried onions are a common addition to many meat dishes. Asparagus especially white asparagus is common as a side dish or as a main meal. (Spargel the German name for asparagus). Its season begins in mid-May and ends on St. John’s Day (24 June).

Here noodles are usually thicker than Italian pasta and often contain egg yolks. In the south-western part of the country the predominant variety of noodles is Spatzle which contain a very large amount of yolk. Potatoes and dumplings (Knodel) are very common especially in the south. Potatoes entered German cuisine in the late 18th century and were almost ubiquitous in the 19th and 20th centuries, but their popularity is currently waning somewhat in favor of noodles and rice. Potatoes are most often served boiled in salt water, but mashed and fried potatoes also are traditional, and Pommes Frites (french fries) have now become very common.

Beer in popular throughout Germany with many local and regional breweries producing a wide variety of beer. Beer is generally not very expensive and of good quality. The pale lager pilsener is predominant in most parts of the country today, whereas wheat beer (Weissbier) and other types of lager are especially common in the south. A number of regions have local specialties, many of which, like Weissbier, are more traditionally-brewed ales. Among these are Altbier, a dark beer available around the lower Rhine, Kölsch, a similar style in the Cologne area, and the low-alcohol Berliner Weiße, a sour beer made in Berlin that is often mixed with raspberry or woodruff syrup. Since the reunification of 1990, Schwarzbier (black beer), which was common in East Germany but could hardly be found in West Germany, has become increasingly popular in Germany as a whole. Beer may also be mixed with other beverages:

• pils or lager and lemonade: Alsterwasser or Radler
• pils or lager and cola: Diesel, Schmutziges or simply Colabier
• Altbier and cola: Krefelder
• wheat beer and cola: Russ or simply Colaweizen

In the last years many breweries served this trend of mixing beer with other drinks, selling bottles of already mixed beverages. Examples are Bibob (from Köstritzer), Veltins V+, Mixery (from Karlsberg) and Cab (from Krombacher).
Beer is generally sold in bottles or from draught. Canned beer is available, but its consumption in public has the reputation of alcoholism.

Some of the specialties per region:
Baden-Wurttemberg – Maultaschen, pasta filled with various ingredients such as meat, spinach, onions, spices. They are either served with broth or cut into slices and fried with eggs. Schupfnudeln, pasta made form potatoes and flour, often served with sauerkraut.
Bavaria – Weisswurste (white sausages) a specialty from Munich traditionally eaten for a second breakfast. Always accompanied by sweet mustard, pretzels and wheat beer. Knodel dumplings made from potatoes. Schweinsbraten, pot-roasted pork. Sliced pork roast with a crunchy crust. Schlachtschussel (Butcher’s plate) a combination of Blutwurst and Leberwurst (blood sausage and liver sausage) served hot on sauerkraut.
Bremen and Lower Saxony – Labskaus (lobscouse) made from corned beef, herring, mashed potatoes, and beetroot, served with a fried egg and a pickled cucumber. Bratwurst (grey sausage with veal content) mild flavor, pan fired. Eaten with a hard roll. Smoked eel (Raucheraal).
East Prussia – Beetenbartsch (beetroot bortsch) served with sour cream (Schmand) and beef. Konigsberger Klopse consisting of meatballs in a white sauce with capers. Tilsit cheese a light yellow semi-soft cheese.
Franconia - Bratwurst: Beef, pork or veal sausages, served fried or grilled with sauerkraut or potato salad and mustard, or simply in a bread roll (Bratwurstsemmel). They vary greatly in size and seasoning from region to region but are often considerably thinner than the equivalents elsewhere in Germany. The best-known sausages are from Nuremberg (Nürnberg) and are recognisable by their small size and clearly visible herb seasoning. They are traditionally served as three sausages in a roll ("Drei in 'a Weckla") or six sausages on sauerkraut ("Sechs auf Kraut"). Schäuferle: An entire pork (or, in some cases, Lamb) shoulder roasted in a fairly cool oven over long period so that the meat is extremely tender with a crunchy crust. Seasoning is usually simple using salt, pepper and caraway and traditionally it is served in a dark sauce, made from the roast stock, meat broth, and often dark beer and Lebkuchen spices. Accompanied by a side salad, dumplings and red cabbage or less commonly sauerkraut. Hochzeitssuppe ("wedding soup"): A spicy meat broth with bread dumplings, liver dumplings and finely sliced pancakes.
Frankfurt am Main and Hesse - Green Sauce (Made from minced and an abundant amount of seven fresh herbs namely borage, sorrel, cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and burnet. Served with boiled potatoes and hardboiled eggs. Called "Grüne Soße" in German or "Griee Sooß" in the Hessian dialect). Handkäse mit Musik ("hand-cheese with music"), a strong cheese made from curdled milk served in a dressing from vegetable oil, vinegar, caraway, salt and pepper and sliced onions. Usually served with rye bread and butter. Although people love to make jokes of dubious quality about the meaning of the "music", several traditional Kneipe sport a choice of Handkäs with and without "music" (the seasoning), thereby ruling out any reference to post-digestive side effects.
Hamburg - Birnen, Bohnen und Speck ("Pears, Beans and Bacon") served side by side to achieve the preferred mixture of sweet, sour, salty and smoky. Aalsuppe ("eel soup"), a sweet and sour soup of meat broth, dried fruits, vegetables, and herbs Palatinate - Gequellde mit weißem Kees (cooked potatoes with curd cheese). Gequellde mit Lewwerworscht (cooked potatoes with liver sausage). Zwiwwelkuche un neie Woi (onion pie with freshly made wine).
Rhineland - Rheinischer Sauerbraten, large pieces of beef or more traditionally horse meat, marinated in a spicy water-vinegar mixture for a long time before baking. Potato fritters (Reibekuchen) with black bread, apple syrup, sugar beet syrup or stewed apples. Blood sausage (Blutwurst) crude or fried.
Saarland - Dibbelabbes (A potato hash prepared from raw grated potatoes, bacon and leeks, and baked in a Dibbe, or pot). Hoorische/Verheiratete (lit. "Married ones", Potatoes and dumplings made of flour served with a creamy bacon sauce). Schwenker or Schwenkbraten (pork steaks, marinated in spices and onions and broiled on a grill that hangs on a chain over a wood fire).
Saxony - Pfefferkuchen (gingerbread): Some believe that the best German gingerbread is from Pulsnitz in Saxony. Leipziger Allerlei: Vegetable dish consisting of peas, baby carrots, white asparagus and morels. It may also, but not necessarily, contain broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or corn, even small prawns.
Saxony-Anhalt – typical for very traditional dishes from this region is the combination of bitter or hearty meat dishes with sweet. Sweet pancakes in green bean soup.
Schleswig –Holstein - Mehlbüdel, a large flour dumpling served with bacon and a sweet sauce. Schnüsch, a stew made of ham, potatoes and vegetables cooked in roux. Schwarzsauer, a sort of black pudding made with vinegar.
Silesia - When Silesia was German, the influence of neighboring countries was clear in Silesian cooking; Polish carp and cheeses, Bohemian goulash, Austrian sausage and Pfefferkuchen (pepper cakes). Schnapps was very commonly drank with beer in Silesia. There was an old saying that went "Silesia has two principal rivers, Schnapps and the river Oder"
Swabia - Käsespätzle (Spätzle (a kind of noodles) and fried onions with grated cheese. Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie).
Thuringia - Thüringer sausage - Red to grey in color, stuffed in a natural casing of pig intestine, unlike the white Franconian variety. Thüringer Rostbrätel - A pork neck steak marinated together with onions in beer and mustard. Rinderroulade (beef roulades) - Spread with mustard and filled with bacon, onions and pickles.
Westphalia - Westfälischer Schinken (smoked ham) Möpkenbrot (bread, which is made of rye flour, pig-blood, milk, eggs, fat, salt and pepper)

Sauerbraten
You will need:
A large crock or bowl for marinating the roast
A large, tightly-covered kettle or Dutch Oven for cooking
4-pound lean beef roast (Preferably rump or eye of round)
Mix together in saucepan:
2 C. red wine vinegar
2 C. red wine
2 C. water
1 large onion, sliced
2 bay leaves, 3 cloves, 10 peppercorns
1. Heat marinating mixture to a simmer, then turn off heat. 2. Pour mixture over meat in a large bowl, and allow it to cool. Cover and refrigerate for 3-5 days. 3. Remove meat from marinade and drain fully. Strain and keep the marinade. 4. Brown the roast in enough oil to cover the bottom of the Dutch Oven. (Dredging the roast in flour before browning will help keep the oil from spattering.) 5. Slowly add 2 cups of the marinating liquid. (Save 1 C. of the liquid for the gravy.) 6. Reduce heat, cover the kettle and allow to simmer for 2 ½ hours, or until roast is tender. 7. Remove it to a large platter, keeping it warm.
8.To make the gravy, thicken the cooking liquid with flour, cornstarch, or crushed gingersnaps. If more flavor is needed, add some beef base or bouillon cubes.
The Sauerbraten should be sliced and served with Spaetzles, Potato Dumplings, or mashed potatoes.
Hot German Potato Salad Recipe
Ingredients:

Boil in their jackets, peel and slice:
4 large potatoes
Dice: 5 thick slices of bacon
Prepare: 1 Cup chopped onion
Mix dressing ingredients in measuring cup:
¼ Cup wine vinegar
¼ Cup water
¼ Cup sugar
Use to taste: salt and pepper

1. Fry the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until almost crisp.
2. Add chopped onion and continue stirring until onion is cooked and turns slightly golden brown.
3. Add mixed dressing ingredients, heat and stir until mixture boils and sugar is dissolved.
4. Add sliced potatoes, mixing everything together well.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for at least 10 minutes, or until the potatoes have absorbed all the liquid and are heated through. Continue heating and turning the mixture over for another 5 to 10 minutes. May allow to stand for additional 10-15 minutes to let the flavors blend completely. By Rasma Raisters

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