Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gearing up for our Oktoberfest-- Bratwurst, Red Cabbage and Farmer Potatoes


I have an "interesting" gene pool, to say the least. My mother was a proud Bavarian, and my father was Mexican. I was born with dark blonde hair, which later turned brunette. In my late 20's, my hair began to show early signs of white hair, that evolved into a slavery dependency on hair color to hide the salt in my pepper. Sometimes my color "hues" varied from black  to almost Irish Setter red as a result of being a hair salon owner/guinea pig to hair colorist trainees!  In the last few years, I finally decided to ask my current hair colorist (whom I trust wholeheartedly) to turn  my  hair color into one even shade of platinum blonde. I now match my mother (Mutti) and my grandmother's (Oma) hair color.



Any resemblence to my Latina half of my D.N.A. can only be detected by my love of Mexican food, beer and my rare occasional hot temper!


My mother passed away on October 12, 2002. For her memorial service, my siblings and I unanimously decided to give an Oktoberfest reception with Bavarian "oom-pa-pa" music, Bavarian blue and white decorations and traditional food.


We knew that my mother would have approved, because she loved being the
center of attention life of the party.


Since then, I have started an annual tradition of hosting my own intimate family Oktoberfest at our home.  I enjoy making  the  traditional Bavarian dishes that I learned from my mother.

Bavarian Red Cabbage-- sweet & sour... one of my favorite dishes

My Oktobefest dinner is next Saturday, so I am trying to make at least one dish a day, since these dishes freeze well.  Yesterday, I made my tried & true recipe for Bavarian Red Cabbage dish (originally posted last March) that  is a true winner. Honest!  I've seen many recipes that uses chicken stock, but that's not the way my Mutti made it. I've put just a few tweaks into my version, but it truly captures an authentic "Blau Kraut" (blue cabbage) that would be on your plate if you were in Bavaria. The cabbage takes a little over an hour to make, from start to finish. It freezes really well, too.

Coring, slicing, braising thre red cabbage-- adding fresh apple, red wine vinegar and brown sugar...and allspice, clove and a little nutmeg...

Mutti once owned a Bavarian Delicatessen & Gift Shop for almost 20 years. Since I spent six years working in my mother's delicatessen (and I complained that I was free slave labor), I gained a lot of knowledge about German cold cuts and sausages.   "Bratwurst" -- "brat" means fried and wurst means sausage.  There is a big difference between a Bockwurst/Weisswurst and a Bratwurst. Weisswurst (VISE-VURST) is traditionally made with all veal and has chives in it. It is heated in hot water and served with either a sweet grainy mustard.

Mom and Bavarian Delicatessen, circa 1984

In our deli, we sold two types of Bratwurst-- all  veal, and another one that also had beef and pork. It's heated and then fried in butter.The pork style of brat has evolved into the Americanized version of "brats and beer".  There will be a quiz after you read this...

Mutti, at the neighborhood deli in her hometown of Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria...
I took this photo in the 90's!



You would think that I love sausages, but I don't!  They're okay, but I think I got tired of them. But, for some reason, I had a sudden craving for bratwurst.  I decided to smother them with caramelized onions and my mom's "Bauern Kartoffeln" (Farmer Style Potatoes).   This is classic comfort food from my childhood memories.



How I wish there was a good German deli where I live, but there isn't... not since mom sold her and "Bavarian Delicatessen" eventually met it's demise. Sadly, I could only find "bockwurst" at my butcher shop. Now, do you understand why I explained the difference?  I have broken the Bavarian code, because I decided to fry a bockwurst! Let me show you:

In a pot of water, I heated the sausages and then turned off the water. Sausages should never be boiled!
In the same pan the I caramelized the onions (with a little olive oil), I added a small pat of unsalted butter.
Carefully, I cut shallow slits across the sausages-- just like my mom used to do.


In another pan, I cooked some bacon and then onion in the rendered fat-- then added some par-cooked Yukon Gold potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, which I had gently flattened with the palm of my hand...


Craig and I could eat these potatoes every day, and never tire of them.

Red cabbage, Bauern potatoes with bacon & onion, bratwurst and Bavarian hot mustard...



To this day, I thank my Mutti for teaching me how to cook and how to run a business. All that "slave labor" that I complained about as an obnoxious teenager has really paid off today. Without my Mutti, I doubt I could have run my own business for fifteen years as responsibly as I did. I only wish that my mom could see my food blog and how much I enjoy cooking with love-- just the way that she did.


I have to say that I just might have a new liking for bratwurst--because anything that is smothered in caramelized onions can't be bad! A bite of sausage with some onion, followed by a taste of red cabbage and Bavarian potatoes... and a sip of ice cold beer. Schmeckt gut!

As we say in Bavaria -  Mahlzeit!

From my Mutti's heritage to your kitchen,










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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Craig says: The potatoes are AWESOME! I am one lucky dude.

Kate said...

This looks delicious! I love red cabbage, brats, and potatoes! Danke!

TKW said...

Ohmigosh! LOVE the photos! How awesome are they? Priceless!

My German father would LOVE this meal!

Bellini Valli said...

It brings back such good memories of travel in Germany in the late '70's.

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

I loved eating krauts and brats when I traveled through Germany. Such fond memories, such great beer!

Cheryl said...

What a beautiful tribute and the food, man oh man it looks delicious!

bella said...

Debby, My husband is German and we attend an Octoberfest in a tiny little Georgia town in the mountains (NE part of state) that has all of this authentic German fare such as what you have prepared. I never knew German entrees could be so good, but I ALWAYS knew they make the BEST desserts!

Phoo-D said...

This is such a sweet post! I love all of the photos. My 'adopted' grandmother made a signature red cabbage dish that looks very similar to yours. What a great way to celebrate memories!

Lynn said...

What a sweet idea, to host an Oktoberfest in honor of your mom. I'll bet the food is delicious, too :)

Kim said...

I loved all the pictures and history behind your oktoberfest celebration. What a great post. I could really chow down on some of that food :D

Velva said...

Loved this blog post! Cheers to mom and to Mutti!
I have spent time in Bavaria and could relate totally to the food. The brats, cabbage and potatoes are a German's three favorite foods.
Thanks for sharing this great story.

Kate said...

Debby, I just nominated you for an award!

Monica H said...

What a sweet tribute to your mother. I know she'd be proud of you Debby.

And that meal looks totally delicious. Can't wait to see what else you make!

Ingrid said...

Aw, what a sweet post!

While I'm not Bavarian that looks like a meal I'd happily devour! I love both brats and cabbage!
~ingrid

Mary said...

I really loved your post and want to thank you for sharing part of your story with us. I love the recipes you've given us for Oktoberfest.

Proud Italian Cook said...

No wonder you're such a good cook. Great genes! Your mutti would be proud!

Simple Simon said...

Thank you so much for sharing some of your family history and connecting it with your wonderful recipes. I enjoyed very much looking at your pictures of your family.

Michaela Bateman said...

What a small world! Wonderful to hear the town of Bad Reichenhall mentioned. My mother comes from Bayerish Gmain which you'll probably know is a small village just outside of the town, a stones throw from the border with Austria. I'm so glad you've shared your knowledge with us. My mother's recipe books are all in German which I sadly don't understand.