Thursday, May 30, 2013

Do Germans really drink warm beer?

In 20 years I am living in the USA one question which I was asked many, many times is the question in the title of this  post. But the question really should sound different. It is not about what they do, because some actually might. The question needs to be asked as follows.
Do Germans really prefer to drink warm beer?
The answer is as simple as the question : No.
( I would like to add that this accounts for the large majority of German beer drinkers. I am sure there is some who actually do prefer the warm juice !)
I was born in Northrheinwestphelia which has a rich history of beer brewing and grew up in Munich, which is without a doubt the mother region of beer. Not only did I grew up in beer regions, but also in a family where beer was part of a lifestyle, in a good sense. Beer in both regions is part of their culture ( like in other regions of Germany as well).
It remains a mystery to me, why people around the World and especially it seems Americans and Australians believe, that beer is consumed warm in Germany. Just imagine the Oktoberfest or many other big fairs serving warm beer. What chaos it would be?
Fact is, that traditionally beer is served cold and the association of brewers in Germany not only helps to understand why beer needs to be brewed by the Reinheitsgebot, but also that it tastes and is best at 4 degree Celsius, which is about 39.2 degree Fahrenheit. (check Brauer Bund on the internet for reference).  So in a sense it is best in a cold refrigerator and at times you should even cool it down a little in the freezer. No need to measure the temperature, just feel the bottle.  
It is however true, that some Germans do drink their beer right out of the basement. Room temperature it is called. But that is only possible, because most basements in Germany are cool in temperature, even in summer time. A fact resulting from the way they are constructed. Into the ground, concrete walls and great insulation. There is no warm basement in a regular home build by German standards. The term room temperature definitely does not account for beer out of your living room.  All above facts are based on German beer though. If you are talking Budweiser, you better chill it too the coldest you can, because after a few minutes of being on the table, the taste of that kind of beer is unbearable.
That would be a difference to be mentioned. When you have an Augustiner Lager in a biergarten and drink it taking your time, even when getting warmer, this beer will taste great. Do the same with a Michelob or whatever and you can not drink it.
So, all together. The answer to the above question is without a doubt NO!
There might be different opinions on how cold it shall be 4 celsius, 8 celsius or around that, but for sure not warm. Room temperature only accounts for basements and then only if it is cold enough. Back in the days refrigerators were small in Germany and the cellar was used to store food items ( which accounts for beer as well) and that is where the misconception came from.
We suggest when you go and buy some good German beer in a store. Take it home. Put one bottle in the fridge and one in the darkest and coldest room you have. After cooling them for a day, try them at the same time and compare the taste of each beer. Notice the difference and make up your own mind. Myself, I like it cold, but would drink a German beer in any condition!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to cook original German Sauerbraten - A great recipe for Sauerbraten ( Sour Roas Beef or Sour Pot Roast)

I am truly excited to share my first recipe. A recipe which not only was one of the favorites in my family, but a recipe which I cooked many times over decades and even sold it online and in print around the World. Try it, enjoy it, ask us questions and let us know how it was. 

Achim's Original Sour Roast Beef Recipe(westfalien style)
There is many different sour roast beef recipes in Germany. They differ from region to region often being very different and sometimes only one ingredient is changed. Also there is all kinds of theories of how long it needs to soak or cocked.
The recipe I successfully cooked many times is a classic and to my knowledge was based in the mid area of Germany, where I was born and where family cooked it for decades.

Here is what you need:
The meat:
2  to 3 lbs of beef (chuck roast or flat shoulder, with some fat)
3 tbs margarine
some sugar
For the marinade:
2 cups water
2 cups wine vinegar
2 cups apple vinegar
½ cup or less balsamic vinegar (this is my kick to the sauce, you can add more later also)
3 to 8 bay leaves ( depending on size)
20 juniper berries
15 cloves
1 large onion
garlic (if desired, but make sure not to add to much, you do not want the garlic dominating the taste)
The cabbage:
1 head of red cabbage
some bay leaves
juniper berries
2 glasses of red cabbage if made in Germany!
juniper berries
maybe sugar
For dumplings:
I always use German dumpling mix. You can make it yourself, but the mix is great and tastes authentic.
You can buy it in different ethnic shops or some well stocked super markets. Try to find Pfanny if you can.

For Sauce optional:
Original German Sauce mix. This is just a way to make it easier for you. My grandma for example used those little helpers already some 40 years ago! If you use a sauce mix or two sauce mix. You will need to take out the meat once it is done, bring the sauce to a cook and then add the mix while stirring heavily. This will also thicken the sauce and make it creamier, which some people prefer. 
Preparing the marinade:
To get the best taste a good marinade needs to be brought to boiling.
Pour water and vinegar into sauce pan, add thin sliced onion and all other ingredients for the marinade. Bring to a boil for app. 2 minutes.
Put meat in a pot or porcelain bowl and pour warm marinate over beef. It needs to be ¾ covered. ( if needed add some water and/or vinegar to liking). Put lit on pot or cover with aluminum foil. Keep this prepared meat in a cool place for 72 hours!!! turning it every 24 hours if possible.
It is important to not leave it longer or shorter in the marinate in order to get the best soaking for the meat of this size.
On the day of the dinner start about 5 hours before eating to cook.
First using the margarine brown the meat from all sides. This is important to keep the juice within and it also makes it look better.
Now add the marinade as it is and bring to cook. Let cook for 45 minutes on medium heat. Continue after that for about 3 hours or to liking ( softness), turning the meat every 20 to 30 minutes while basting all the time! Make sure to have the lit on as much as possible in order to not loose to much of the marinate. You might have to add water in between, but caution, you do not want to put to much in and loose the taste.
While the meat is cooking you prepare the red cabbage.
If you make it from scratch:
Cut whole cabbage in small stripes. Put in water and start boiling about 3 hours before dinner. While cooking at spices and some sugar. As for spices you use 3 or 4 bay leaves, about 10 juniper berries ( all spice works, but is not original!), salt and pepper as well as about 5 cloves. Cut an apple in half, clean out and cut one half into slices, add to cabbage about half way of cooking.  See how it turns red. By the time the meat is ready, the cabbage will be  as well. If you really want to make it perfect, prepare the cabbage 1 day ahead and let it sit. Warm up before dinner. 
I prefer the glass option:
The red cabbage in the glass is well prepared and often does not even need spices. However, I like to add bay leaves, juniper berries, half sliced apple,  and some sugar. You can heat it up about 30 minutes before dinner. There is no harm in cutting and preparing the cabbage yourself. But in all honesty, it is difficult to get it right. The quality of the red cabbage in glasses produced by German companies is very good. It will save you time, work and money! My grandmother and great grandmother used the glassed cabbage and it was always perfect. 
Just follow the instructions. They are easy to make or make them from scratch if you have a recipe for it.
Once tenderness has been accomplished, remove meat and cut into medium thin (½ to ¾ inch) slices. Place meat back in sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes. At this point you should add a little sugar and if you like some brown sauce mix to thicken the sauce. Flower is possible, but dangerous since you might loose the good taste as well.
Now all three items are done and ready to serve. Make sure you serve it hot.
You can just serve all items as you like. I suggest to serve the sauce as is, but it is your option. Put some on the dumplings and garnish with some parsley.
In some instances people prefer mashed potatoes and fresh beans with it. However, in order to get the best compilation of tastes, I suggest to stay with my recipe.
What to drink:
Opinions are very different about what to have with this recipe.
I think a dark, cold beer would be best to compliment the taste of the sour roast beef. The dark beer will add some sweetness to the meal. There is also some amber non alcoholic beers which should work. 
I would not suggest wine, but if you prefer, please pick a more sweater red wine. Dry wine will bite with the sauce.
If you can not drink alcohol, just have some water with it.
I know it is a long process, but if you follow the steps, you will have a nice, special and authentic dinner as we had it at home back in the old land. 
Enjoy your meal.
Guten Appetit
Important Note:
I cooked this recipe many times and wrote this many years ago. It is possible that there is similarities with other recipes. There is not intention of using other peoples copyright. However, we protect our specific print with copyright. Please do not resell it or use it for commercial use without written notice of us.

Welcome to " How to cook authentic German food - a resource blog for all who would like to learn about German recipes, German culture and Germany in general

Welcome to our blog about German cooking.

We are both born and raised in Germany. We both love to cook and have extensive experience in home cooking.

For 20 years I am here in the USA and tried many different foods at German restaurants or in private homes. What I found is, that many so called German restaurants tried, but did not accomplish the task of cooking authentic food and that some of the private chefs who gave it a shot, tried to supplement and failed to create an authentic tasting meal.

It is not necessary to cook everything from scratch. Also there is nothing wrong with using helpers like sauce mix and so on. But, it is a matter of putting it together the right way and using helpers which are authentic as well. Also a matter of not supplementing essential ingredients.

We will do the best to convert all measurements and soon put a little chart out here. Just to make it as easy as possible.

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