Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oktoberfest!!

Fall in Texas is one of the best times of year - no, we don't have "seasons", but we do have 75 degree weather, beautiful partly cloudy skies, sometimes crazy thunderstorms, and also, in central Texas, a major German influence which can be a fabulous cause for celebration!! This year I decided to make my own Oktoberfest at home, and boy was it glorious!!! We made bratwurst, homemade mustard, homemade pretzel buns, and had friends over to eat it with some beer - what could be better?!

Mustard

I got this awesome recipe that I knew would be amazing with bratwurst because it includes beer in the mustard!

Ingredients

1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark, porter-style beer, such as Black Butte Porter 
1/4 cup brown mustard seeds (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

How to: 

  1. Place the caraway seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium, nonreactive bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2 days.
  3. Remove the plastic wrap and transfer the mustard mixture to a blender. Blend until the desired consistency is reached, about 30 seconds for a coarse texture. Transfer the mustard to a nonreactive container with a tight-fitting lid, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

The crazy thing about this mustard is that after 2 days, it looks exactly the same - just some liquid with some seeds in it. The minute you blend it, whether you use a blender or an immersion blender, things start to change!! It gets thicker almost immediately, but still not mustard-thick - after refrigerating for a day or so, you feel incredibly accomplished like you actually made REAL mustard!




Pretzel Buns 

These buns pretty much made the entire meal - they were AHH-MAZING. I came home from work and just whipped them up in about an hour, hour and a half? And 30-45 minutes of that was waiting for them to rise, they were super easy! I'm so impressed with myself and all I did was follow instructions for someone else's recipe! I highly - HIGHLY!! - recommend these :)

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small cloves garlic, grated
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup baking soda
Pretzel salt or coarse ground sea salt, for sprinkling

How to:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, 1/2 cup water, sugar and honey to 105 to 110 degrees F. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes until the yeast blooms.
  2. In a separate saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and garlic and cook until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. *I will say here that I have never before grated garlic - I used the smallest grate (zest-sized) and quickly realized that I would run out of holding room on the piece of garlic I was grating! It worked out great (grate, ha), but I probably wasted a bit too much good garlic. Also, if you have a paper cut on your index finger, this hurts fyi!!
  3. Combine the all-purpose flour and bread flour in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the blooming yeast, and then add in the melted butter and garlic mixture. Mix on medium speed until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic in texture and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes. *This 5-7 minutes confused me, my mixer was finished in less than 30 seconds... I would say this depends on your mixer strength - if the dough is pulling from the sides, you're done!
  5. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and form into a ball. Cut into 4 equal pieces, and then cut those in half to form 8 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a ball and place onto a prepared baking sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and let them rest in a warm place for 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Once rested, lightly dust your work surface again and roll the balls into 7-inch logs. Place onto the other prepared baking sheet, cover, place back in the warm spot and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place one oven rack high and one low. Line 2 more baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
  8. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water to a boil, and then add the baking soda. In batches, place the dough in the water and cook for 30 seconds on each side.*This is like a super fun chemistry experiment!! The baking soda completely bubbles over, so I'd definitely recommend a tall pot or a dutch oven if you have one, it is very exciting and fun to watch, but possibly messy!!
  9. Using a slotted spatula, remove the logs and place onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the logs with pretzel salt as they come out of the water, to ensure the salt sticks. Then cut 3 diagonal slits on top of the bread, not too deep.
  10. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, rotating between the top and bottom racks of the oven halfway through the cooking.

Bratwurst

Last but not least, I cooked the brats in the best way possible without a grill! I used 2 cans of beer (whatever flavor you like), 2 cloves of garlic, a cube of chicken bouillon, and a bit of an onion, boiled it and then boiled the brats in the tasty broth. Then I transferred them to a skillet where I browned the outsides - barely crispy! - then I transferred them to the buns, where we topped them with mustard and chowed down alongside a tasty beer!!

Happy Oktoberfest, I hope yours was as excellent as ours!!

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