Celebrate Oktoberfest with German foods

October 10, 1990|By Pat Dailey | Pat Dailey,Chicago Tribune

Oktoberfest is a celebration in the grandest German tradition, a chance to revel in the pleasures of food and more importantly, beer. The food, though steeped in the heartiest of German history, is more for festive feeding than fine dining. Beer takes center stage as the raison d'etre, and the accompanying food should be complementary to it.

Sausages are standard fare on this festive occasion, chosen as much for their ease as for their compatability with the beverage of choice. A trip to a German meat market or delicatessan will provide some delectable choices. Short of that, many supermarkets offer a commendable variety.

Here are some recipes to help you create your own party. Serve them with your favorite sausage and German beer.

Country Cabbage

With Mustard

Makes six to eight servings.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

1 large head green cabbage, about 1 3/4 pounds

4 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, diced

1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon each: dried thyme, salt, coarsely cracked black pepper

Core cabbage and cut into one-inch squares. Cook in boiling salted water for two minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook over medium-high heat until it is softened and lightly browned at the edges, six to eight minutes. Add cabbage and toss well. Cook until heated through, one to two minutes. Add mustard, thyme, salt and pepper, mix well and remove from heat. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.

Red Potatoes

with Caraway Butter

Makes six to eight servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes

2 pounds small red potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons minced parsley

3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

Remove a strip of peel around the center of each potato with a vegetable peeler. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water just until tender, ten to 15 minutes, depending on size. Do not overcook. Drain well and set aside.

Melt the butter in the same pan. Add the parsley, caraway, salt and pepper and the toss in the potatoes. Serve hot.

Dark Rye with Onions

and Horseradish Butter

Makes six to eight servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon each: lemon juice, Dijon mustard

1 medium sweet red or white onion, sliced paper-thin

Sliced dark rye bread

Put horseradish in a small strainer. Press on it with the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible.

Transfer drained horseradish to a food processor. Add butter, lemon juice and mustard and process until smooth. Can be made a week in advance and refrigerated. Soften to room temperature before serving.

To serve, spread bread with horseradish butter and top with several rings of onion.

Pear Kuchen

Makes six to eight servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 55 to 65 minutes

If you do not have a deep tart pan, you can use a springform pan or round cake pan with a removeable bottom, though the kuchen will not brown as well. If you use one of these pans, broil the kuchen for several minutes after it is fully baked, just long enough to turn the top a golden brown.


1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, well chilled, cut in 10 pieces


3 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon each: grated lemon rind, vanilla

3 small ripe pears

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Have ready a 9x1 1/2 -inch deep tart pan with a removeable bottom.

Combine the flour, sugar, ginger, allspice and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and process just until the butter is chopped to the size of small peas. Alternately, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into very small pieces and cut in with a pastry blender.

Remove one-half cup of crumb mixture and set aside in refrigerator. Transfer the rest to the tart pan and press into bottom and up sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is crisp and golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.

For filling, mix egg yolks lightly. Add sugar and mix well; add sour cream, flour, lemon rind and vanilla. Set aside.

Peel pears, cut in half lengthwise and remove core with a melon baller. Put on a cutting board, cut side down and cut lengthwise into one-quarter-inch thick slices, leaving the shape of the pear intact. Slide a thin metal spatula under the pear and transfer it to the crust, arranging five halves around outer edge with narrow end in center and one half in the ceenter. Carefully pour filling into pan, around the edges of the pear but not over them. Sprinkle reserved crumbs over the top.

Return to oven and bake until filling is set, 35 to 45 minutes. Baking time depends on how ripe the pears are; do not overbake. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Remove sides from the pan and cool a bit more before serving. Serve slightly warm.

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