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Brats, sausages star in Oktoberfest menu

Brats, sausages star in Oktoberfest menu

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One of fall’s biggest communal parties is Oktoberfest, an annual festival that takes place in Munich, Germany, over a two-week period and ending on the first Sunday in October.

The festival originated on Oct. 12, 1810, in celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The festival concluded five days later with a horse race in an open area that came to be called Theresienwiese (“Therese’s green”). The following year the race was combined with a state agricultural fair, and in 1818 booths serving food and drink were introduced.

By the late 20th century the booths had developed into large beer halls made of plywood, with interior balconies and bandstands. Each of the Munich brewers erects one of the temporary structures, with seating capacities of some 6,000. The mayor of Munich taps the first keg to open the festival. Total beer consumption during Oktoberfest is upwards of about 2 million gallons. The breweries are also represented in parades that feature beer wagons and floats along with people in folk costumes.

Oktoberfest began, Sept. 19 and ends Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (Note: the 2020 event in Munich was canceled.)

Celebrate your German roots or simply fill that hungry tummy with this hearty ethnic dish.

The warm potato salad has a nice tang that offsets the rich sausages.

Bratwurst with Warm Potato Salad

  • 1 pound unpeeled red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 large precooked bratwurst sausages
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or other mustard, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch length

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover by 1 inch. Season well with salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Begin heating the sausages. Fry them in a nonstick frying pan with a little vegetable oil, or steam on top of the potatoes if your pot has a steamer insert.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar and mustard.

When potatoes are done, drain them and add to the onions. Stir to coat, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in chives, then serve with the sausages and some mustard on the side.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: “The Working Cook,” by Tara Duggan

(San Francisco Chronicle Press, $24.95)

Rather than your basic dog, up the ante by grilling up something more robust, such as bratwurst sausages or peppery kielbasas. They are bigger, meatier and way more flavorful.

For toppings, we went decidedly German, filling our buns with sauerkraut, cheese and sautéed apple. And of course it doesn’t hurt that these grinders pair up so well with beer ...

Bratwurst Grinders with Apple, Cheddar and Sauerkraut

Start to finish: 30 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 small grinder rolls
  • Butter
  • 4 bratwurst sausages or 6-inch kielbasas
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar

In a dry skillet over medium, toast the caraway seeds, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium-high and add the apple and sugar. Saute until lightly caramelized and just tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the grill to medium. Slice open the grinder rolls and butter the insides. Place the rolls on the grill grates, spread open and set cut side down. Grill until toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. At the same time, grill the sausages or kielbasas, turning occasionally until charred, plump and cooked through, about 6 minutes.

To assemble, sprinkle the insides of the rolls with the cheese before placing a sausage into each. Divide the apples between the rolls, then top with sauerkraut and a sprinkle of toasted caraway seeds.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from: Alison Ladman

Wisconsin Beer Brats

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 5 hours

  • 2 (19.8 ounce) packages fresh bratwurst links
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (12 ounce) cans light beer
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained (optional)
  • 10 (6 inch) bratwurst buns

In a slow cooker, combine the bratwurst links, butter, beer, onions, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, garlic and brown sugar. Cover and set to High. Cook for 4 hours, stirring once per hour. Add sauerkraut and continue cooking for another hour.

Serve bratwurst on buns with onions and top with your favorite condiments.

Makes 10 servings.

Recipe from:

This recipe for hard cider-soaked apple-sage sausages is perfect for a tailgate, Halloween party, football Sunday or Oktoberfest. Everyone loves sausage, so it’s good for fans of all ages. And, if you’ve happened to go apple picking and wonder what you are going to do with all the apples, here’s the dish!

You can serve the sausages on a hard roll with caramelized onions and mustard. Or if you are a little more ambitious (and have loads of apples from that afternoon picking), make apple-fennel sauerkraut.

It looks just like kraut but has a tangy, slightly sweet apple-onion flavor that is the perfect complement to the chicken-apple sausages.

Hard Cider-Soaked Apple-Sage Sausages

Start to finish: 45 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 large sweet onions, sliced
  • 8 uncooked apple-sage chicken sausages (see note)
  • Two to three 12-ounce bottles hard apple cider (regular apple cider also can be used)
  • 8 hard or French rolls, warmed
  • Spicy honey mustard or German mustard
  • Apple-fennel sauerkraut (see recipe below)

In a large stockpot over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium then continue to cook until fully caramelized, about 20 minutes. If the onions dry out too much, add several teaspoons of water.

Meanwhile, heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a charcoal fire.

Place the sausages directly on the cooking grate and grill over indirect heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all over. Alternatively, you can pan fry the sausages.

If you are serving the sausages the next day, let them cool to room temperature and cover before refrigerating overnight. Otherwise, pour the cider into a large stockpot. Add the sausages, making sure they are covered.

Bring the cider up to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer over a medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sausages have been flavored by the hot cider.

Place the sausages in the warm rolls, spread with mustard and top with caramelized onions and sauerkraut.

Makes 8 servings.

Note: If you can’t find the pre-packaged “gourmet” sausages, use a sweet Italian sausage and add chunks of apples (about 2 apples) and 4 to 5 fresh sage leaves to the simmering liquid. Serve with frosty mugs of hard apple cider and homemade hash browns.

Apple-Fennel Sauerkraut

Start to finish: 1 hour

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 1 cup hard (or regular) apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • Ground black pepper

Trim off the frilly top of the fennel bulb, then finely chop it and set aside. Slice the fennel bulb itself into long strips (julienne).

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium, heat the oil. Add the onion and several pinches of salt. Cook until the onion begins to brown. Add the fennel strips, stir and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, or until the fennel begins to wilt. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the grated apple with the lemon juice, then add it to the pan. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the butter, mixing well. Add the cider, reserved fennel tops and caraway seeds. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, uncovered, or until the mixture is soft and cooked down. If it needs more liquid, add more cider. It will look like sauerkraut. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to allow the flavors to blend. The sauerkraut can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Warm just before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Recipe from: Elizabeth Karmel

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