Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oktoberfest & Schnitzel

The main entrance to Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest may have been the last stop on our trip to Europe, but it was definitely my favorite.  I found that Munich reminded me a lot of a typical American city, bustling with people, big buildings, corner restaurants and taxi cabs.  It was a comforting feeling of familiarity when I was starting to feel slightly homesick.

The Oktoberfest is simply amazing -- a must-see for anyone who likes to party, have fun, sing songs, drink beer, people watch and eat pretzels the size of your head.  The carnival outside the tents is packed with street food {schnitzel sandwiches, brats, gingerbread cookie hearts covered in German/Bavarian sayings and worn as a necklace}, rides and games.  The beer is carted in on horse-drawn carriages and the beer tents are where the real party happens.  They are packed with tables where guests sit and are served liter beers and food while meeting new table-mates and singing German drinking songs played by the band.  Each tent is named for the type of beer that they serve. 
Bringing in the Beer!

As the day goes on, the crowd gets quite lively.  They move from sitting down to standing on their seats, to dancing on their seats, then dancing on the tables themselves.  All of this is encouraged. {And by the way....I was nervous to enter the bathrooms at a party of this magnitude but I went in all day and night to find them spotless and fully stocked with TP at all times! }
Amazing panoramic of the Spaten tent 

Now to the food!  The night before the ‘fest, we ate at a German restaurant that my husband deemed “the best meal he ate on vacation”.  Pork Wiener Schnitzel with German Potato and Cucumber Salad.  Amazing.  Usual schnitzel recipes call for simple ingredients of pork with a breading of egg and plain bread crumbs, fried and served with lemon....but this was a special breed of schnitzel...juicy pork with a tang of mustard and horseradish.  I knew it would be the first meal I replicated at home.  The potato-cucumber salad was fantastic; creamy, yet vinegary.  The cucumbers add a lovely crunch and brightness to the dish!  Serve these recipes up with some good cold beers and you’ll be feeling like a German in no time!

Wiener Schnitzel

1/3 c. cider vinegar
3 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
1 heaping tbsp prepared horseradish

4 pork cutlets or chops, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 eggs
vegetable oil for frying

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag and add pork to bag.  Place in refrigerator and marinate 2 hours.
  2. Set up three shallow dishes.  Place the flour and 1/2 tsp salt in one and breadcrumbs in another.  Beat eggs well and place in a third dish.
  3. Heat at least 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan to 350 degrees.
  4. Working one at a time, dredge cutlets first in flour until surface is completely dry.  Dip in egg to coat, allow excess to drip off then quickly roll in breadcrumbs until coated.  Place meat immediately in pan with hot oil.  Do not crowd pan.  Cook in batches if necessary.
  5. Fry the schnitzel for 3 to 4 minutes on one side.  Turn them over once and fry until both sides are golden brown.  Remove from pan and place on plate with lemon slices. 

German Potato-Cucumber Salad

2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 small white onion, chopped
1 English cucumber, seeded, halved and sliced
1/4 c. tarragon vinegar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 to 2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Boil potatoes until soft but firm.  Cool them in an ice bath.  Once cooled, cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Add parsley, onion, cucumber, vinegar and oil.  Mix well.  Stir in chicken broth.  If more broth is needed to moisten, add up to 1/2 cup.  Add 1 tsp sugar, salt and pepper.  Taste and add more sugar, if desired.

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