Filed under: challenge, dinner, local, phoenix, recipe | Tags: apples, beer, bratwurst, cabbage, challenge, fall, local, October, Phoenix, recipe
October brings a lot of things to the Valley – pumpkin patches, haunted houses, the Race for the Cure – but it also serves as a temporary home to a traditional German festival. I’m talking about Oktoberfest – the beer guzzling, bratwurst eating, lederhosen wearing celebration that lasts for over two weeks in Bavaria. While I may not have publicly participated in any festivities this year, that fact didn’t stop me from having my own culinary celebration. Oktoberfest may have ended over a week ago but there’s still plenty of October left to enjoy a german inspired meal. I went for the classic brats and cabbage. It’s easy to make, tastes amazing and is a perfect barbecue recipe for the cooler days ahead.
My trip to the market this week was pretty straight forward. This recipe doesn’t call for a whole lot of ingredients which gave me plenty of time to wander and take in some of the weather induced changes. The cooler temperatures this week really brought the market to life. This week saw a lot of new shoppers, a handful of new vendors and even some tables and chairs for visitors to stop and soak up the atmosphere. There were two big highlights for me this week, both involving meat.
As you may have noticed, a lot of my recipes use meat as a part of the dish, but not as the main ingredient. This week was a notable exception – you really can’t have local brats without meat – but for the most part I try to use meat as a component of a meal and not as the starring feature. Why? Well, to be honest, the local, humanely treated, responsibly raised meat options had largely been limited to pork and some more expensive cuts of beef (which, as a grad student aren’t really in my budget). This week, however, I spotted a guy selling a very exciting new option. Chicken! Normally, I don’t get overly excited about chicken, but this means that I can expand my meat options! He didn’t have any for sale but it was possible to order it in advance – so now I can start dreaming up some chicken recipes to share.
The other exciting discovery was the local, sun-cured beef jerky for sale. I love beef jerky. It’s spicy, it’s chewy and it’s a great protein filled snack. The jerky available this week was a little different from other types I’ve had – it was crispy like a chip, full of beef flavor and had just enough pepper to give it some spice. Made from grass-fed Arizona cows and naturally cured it made the concerned consumer in me smile. I’ll be buying more of this stuff in the future.
But back to this week’s recipe. While I initially wanted to make my own sauerkraut to go with the local brats from the Meat Shop, I decided against it after learning it can take weeks to cure. Since I didn’t plan that far ahead, I had to find a different cabbage topping to pair with the brats. After some research, I stumbled across a recipe for braised cabbage and brats paired with a lemony sour cream sauce. I made some changes-including adding in fresh apples and following a time-honored family recipe for cooking brats- and found that it’s just as good, if not better, than the bratwurst and sauerkraut of tradition.
This meal went great with Oak Creek Brewing’s Hefeweisen which, while not the typical beer to have with sausage, was full of flavor and rounded out the whole Oktoberfest feeling. I finished the meal with a fruit and cheese platter to celebrate the last melon of the season and the new apple arrivals. Start to finish, the whole thing took 30 minutes.
Grilled Bratwurst with Braised Cabbage
Adapted from Aaron McCargo Jr’s recipe.
1/2 onion, quartered
1 can beer (the cheap stuff is fine)
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme
pinch salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 small cabbage (I mixed red and green), thinly sliced
1 apple, cut into matchsticks
Pinch chile powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
Sour Cream Dressing:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 shallot minced
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp chile powder
2 tbsp chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Fill a large pot with beer and water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating prepare the vegetables. Once the beer/water mixture is boiling, add in the mustard, onion, thyme and salt/pepper. Add in the bratwurst and boil for 10 minutes. In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, apples, chile powder and salt/ pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. By this point the brats should be done boiling, transfer them to the grill, turning frequently. Add the sugar, wine and stock to the cabbage mixture, cook for 6 – 8 minutes until al dente.
While the brats and cabbage are cooking, prepare the sour cream dressing. Combine the ingredients into a bowl, give it a thorough stir and season to taste.
Once everything is ready, spread some dressing onto a bun, add the brat and a good amount of the cabbage mixture. You can add more dressing on top, or finish with some diced onions or mustard.
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