Two Saturdays ago, Mike and I spent the afternoon at the Oakland Park Oktoberfest. It was very small scale, but that meant it was easy to find parking, the beer line wasn't long, and there weren't too many people blocking our view of the dachsund races. All those little weiner dogs running around were so cute, and it made for a really fun day.
One of our favorite beers for any time of year--Tucher--was on tap. We drank both the special Oktoberfest brew and the regular style. This is an excellent food beer--think slow-roasted pork with tangy barbecue sauce, lentil stew, and of course brats and sauerkraut.
The official Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is over now (it runs from late Sept. through early October), but why should we pay attention to technicalities. This is the perfect time of year for some hearty German fare, so we picked up a 6-pack of Tucher at our Whole Foods market, along with their all-natural pork brats and got to work. I wanted finger food--not a big sloppy sandwich that you have to polish off in 5 minutes because it's too messy to set it back down on your plate. So I came up with bratwurst and sauerkraut crostini. It was my idea of Oktoberfest with style, but it worked even better than I expected! It was the perfect balance of flavors, and there wasn't an excess of soggy bread taking over.
Mike cooked the brats with onion by browning them and then simmering in beer for a while. We eat chicken and turkey sausage fairly frequently, but these were a whole new taste--and so juicy! You can do everything as directed and serve it as a baguette sandwich if that works better for you, but don't let October end before cooking some brats. For us, I think it's going to be a year-round dish.
I never had a bratwurst I really liked until we tried Whole Foods Market “Whole Ranch” brand (find near the meat counter). They are extremely lean, but really juicy and of course, don’t contain any scary ingredients. For lager, we used Red Stripe ('hooray beer!') from Jamaica. It worked very well, as should any traditional lager-style beer. Do not use ale - especially not an IPA (India Pale Ale). The bitter flavor will dominate the dish.
1/2 tbs. oil
4 pre-cooked bratwurst sausages
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced
1-12 oz. bottle lager (or enough to cover sausage about halfway in skillet)
1 cup prepared sauerkraut
1/4 cup water
20 slices from a whole grain baguette, cut on the diagonal, about 1/2-inch thick
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil to medium-high. Add the brats and cook until browned on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown on the second side. Add the onion to the skillet right after flipping the sausage and cook until soft and lightly browned. If you want, use tongs to brown the brats on a third side. Season onion with salt and pepper. Add lager to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Cook for 12 minutes, turning the sausage once halfway through. Remove skillet from heat.
Meanwhile, combine the sauerkraut and water in a small saucepan over low heat for a few minutes to warm it. Spread the baguette slices generously with mustard.
Remove sausages from skillet and slice on the diagonal into about 10 slices per sausage. Remove onions from skillet and discard the liquid. Layer each baguette slice with a couple sausage slices, onion, and a spoonful of sauerkraut. Sprinkle with parsley. Arrange on a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature.
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