Beer Braised Bratwurst and Apple Slaw

Main Dishes, Recipes

Even though Oktoberfest in Germany ended earlier this month, it’s not too late to celebrate with beer and brats here in the States! That’s right, folks — contrary to popular belief, traditional Oktoberfest does not wait until October to begin. This annual sixteen-day festival runs from late September to the first week of October each year, though Oktoberfest events in the States (or at least here in Southern California) run throughout the 10th month of the year. I love holidays, so one night after work, I decided to surprise Martin with a festive batch of beer braised bratwurst accompanied by seasonal pumpkin ales.

Beer Braised Bratwurst, Apple Slaw, Mashed Potatoes, and a seasonal lager

Beer Braised Bratwurst, Apple Slaw, Mashed Potatoes, and a seasonal lager

This recipe is a great way to prepare your favorite store-bought brand of bratwurst (or, I suppose, “bratwurst-style sausages,” to be all-inclusive). We’re not quite skilled nor equipped for stuffing our own force-meat at home, so a quick stop at a local butcher shop or grocery store is in order. While you’re there, grab a six-pack of your favorite brew along with a good-sized white or sweet onion. I served ours over a bed of mashed potatoes with a dollop of apple slaw, though you are welcome to whip up more traditional potato pancakes, sauerkraut, or a cabbage-based slaw.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 lb of bratwurst (I used Trader Joes seasonal pork Hofbrau Brats)

1 medium (or 2 small) white or sweet onions, sliced top-to-bottom like for the Office Burger

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Salt & pepper

12 ounces of beer (any will do – I used the Oktoberfest lager, also at Trader Joes)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

(Optional) Apple Slaw Ingredients:

(Optional) Apple Slaw Ingredients:

2 apples (I used one honey crisp and one granny smith)

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

Extra virgin olive oil until emulsified, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup

Mm butter...

Mm butter…

Step 1: Melt the butter in a large skillet.

Sear the Brats

Sear the Brats

Step 2: Brown the sausages on all sides, getting a nice dark sear. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Saute the Onions

Saute the Onions

Step 3: In the buttery, fatty goodness, saute the onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Wilted Onions

Wilted Onions

Step 4: After about 5-10 minutes, they should have wilted like this. Sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar (to help with the caramelization). Continue to saute for a few more minutes.

Simmer Simmer

Simmer Simmer

Step 5: Pour in the beer and bring to a simmer. Add in the bratwurst and continue cooking until the beer has reduced to a glaze-like sauce. If needed, sprinkle in a bit of brown sugar to combat any bitterness from the beer. During this stage, prepare the apple salad or any side dishes.

Braising the Brats

Braising the Brats

Step 6: By the time the beer becomes glaze, the sausages will have cooked for anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Remove one and insert a meat thermometer, ensuring that the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. Once you’re there, it’s good to go!

Time for Apple Salad!

Time for Apple Salad!

For our side dish, I whipped up a quick apple-based slaw. I forgot the honey my first time around so it turned out way too acidic… I won’t be making that mistake again any time soon! The recipe above should yield a balanced, sweet & sour salad perfect for the savory sausages.

Whisk Whisk

Whisk Whisk

To prepare the apple salad, whisk together the dressing ingredients, starting with the mustard, vinegar, lime juice, and honey and then drizzling in the oil until well emulsified.

Cut the Apples

Cut the Apples

Julienne the apples — if you have a mandoline, slice on the thickest setting and then cut the slices into strips.

Toss in the Dressing

Toss in the Dressing

Toss in the dressing until well coated. Season with salt. Let chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Ready to drink and devour. Prost!

Ready to drink and devour. Prost!

We served two sausages per person for a hearty dinner that paired perfectly with my Sam Adams Octoberfest and Martin’s Hoegaarden. It took a bit longer than anticipated for a weeknight dinner (mostly because I’m paranoid about cooking pork and really wanted those sausages to simmer in the brew for a long time) but for an hour’s work, we ended up with a deliciously festive meal. So try it out, raise your glass, and Prost!

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On the Waterfront Cafe – Venice, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

Summer sun, something’s begun, but oh — oh, those summer nights… Oh, Grease. Though the summer beach scenes were actually filmed in Malibu, I can’t help but think of this song while strolling through the world-famous boardwalk at Venice Beach. We have lived in West LA since moving here for college, but only recently did we discover On the Waterfront Cafe, a restaurant and biergarten that serves Bavarian beers on tap and features a menu of köstlich (delicious) Swiss/German dishes. The food and brews are great, as is the view — On the Waterfront Cafe is situated right on the boardwalk, just 10 feet from artists and knick-knack vendors and a stone’s throw away from the sandy beach.

Must Have: Giant Pretzel

Must Have: Giant Bavarian Pretzel

Of course when at a biergarten, one must try the beer. I’m not a big beer drinker aside from sweet lambics and the occasional hefeweizen, but I had done my research of their offerings (many of which are from Erdinger) and knew I wanted to try the Urweisse. Note: they recently switched from draft to bottled for this particular variety.

Erdinger Urweisse

Erdinger Urweisse

The Urweisse, a Weißbier with notes of cloves, banana, and citrus, was a smooth beer that paired well with the noms we had ordered for our beach-side lunch, especially the pretzel. It arrived with the Erdinger branded glass and poured a stunning hazy gold color. A squeeze of lemon and I was a happy camper. Prost!

Giant Bavarian Pretzel

Close-up of the Giant Bavarian Pretzel

According to the menu, the pretzel served here does indeed hail from Bavaria, although the details were not specific. The recipe? The dough itself? In any case, they are baked to order and took us aback when we saw it — it was the size of a dinner plate! One is definitely plenty for two people to share. When you order, be sure to request light salt (or none at all, if you have sodium restrictions). Fluffy, hot, and slightly chewy, the pretzel tasted fantastic with the sweet & spicy mustard.

Steamed Mussels

Steamed Mussels

I’m a huge fan of moules frites, so when I spotted the Steamed Mussels served with garlic bread, I had to have it. There were so many mussels, all succulent and tender, stewed in white wine, garlic, onion, and lemon. A classic combination and excellent with the Urweisse. I slurped away with glee, sparing a few for Martin to try.

Pork Bratwurst with Rosti

Pork Bratwurst with Rosti

Martin decided to pair his Erdinger Weizenbier with the Swiss Bratwurst, pork (or veal) bratwurst served with onion sauce & rösti, basically crispy pan-fried Swiss hash browns. He really liked the onion sauce, dipping each bite of sausage and potato into it and even scooping up every last bite of caramelized onion. The bratwurst was juicy on the inside with a smoky charred flavor on the outside.

Party Pitcher

Party Pitcher

On a subsequent visit, we took some friends here for a Sunday morning brunch. Still, it’s never too early for beer, so we shared a pitcher. If you have more in your party, the bartender lines the whole pitcher rim with lemon wedges. Keep in mind that for brunch they only serve the breakfast menu but will make pretzels upon request.

Beer with a View

Beer with a View

Palm trees swaying, ocean breeze wafting, it’s definitely worth sitting outside on the patio. In the summertime, they set out benches at an open biergarten area that’s always crowded with locals and tourists and the occasional cluster of belligerent dudes. The patio is a great place to people-watch (and dog-watch)!

Eggs Scandia

Eggs Scandia

Four people in our party (myself and Martin included) were planning to get the Eggs Benedict when I piped up and inquired what the Eggs Scandia is (the menu has no description). The next words that came out of our server’s mouth sealed the deal for all four of us — two poached eggs over smoked salmon on a butter croissant topped with hollandaise and dill, served with breakfast potatoes.

What lies beneath.. the top half of the croissant.

What lies beneath.. the top half of the croissant.

The croissant was buttery and flaky. I love Eggs Benedict but usually my favorites are the ones that are served on croissants… as if the silky egg yolks weren’t already bad enough for my cholesterol levels. My absolute favorite are crab cake benedicts, but those are harder to find. The smoked salmon added a nice saltiness to cut the creaminess of the hollandaise, and dill and salmon is a classic flavor combination.

Beautifully Poached Egg

Beautifully Poached Egg

The best part of eating Eggs Benedict (or in this case, Eggs Scandia) is cutting into a perfectly poached egg and watching the runny yolk ooze out. Picture perfect. The potatoes were pretty good too, crispy and full of flavor – I detected a sweet smokiness… paprika perhaps? Extra delicious with a splash of hot sauce.

If you’re looking for brunch, lunch, or just a beer and pretzel in Venice Beach, be sure to stop by On the Waterfront Cafe. After your meal, you can walk off the carb-filled pretzel and check out the Boardwalk. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

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Check out On the Waterfront Cafe: waterfrontcafe.com

205 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

See their Yelp reviews here!

Samuel Adams Brewery – Boston, MA

Boston, Food Adventures
The golden tickets to enter Jim Cook's Factory

The golden ticket to enter Jim Cook’s Factory

The Sam Adams Brewery is a ways off from Downtown Boston but definitely worth the trek to experience the process of beer making if not for the free beer at the end of the tour. The free tour starts about once every 45 minutes and weekday tours did not seem very crowded. There may be a short wait between tours but visitors could distract themselves at the mini museum showcasing the many Sam Adams varieties and company history. I was actually surprised to find out that Sam Adams hasn’t been around all that long – only since 1984. Its wide appeal, many awards, widespread distribution, and iconic name has built a brand that feels like it has been around for much longer.

Varieties

Best Family Photo Ever

I wish I could say I have tried all these beers but I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. Many of these varieties are readily available year-round, some are seasonal, and a few are either limited to certain regions or unavailable altogether.

I won’t even try to go through all the details our expert tour guide edumacated us with but here’s a quick run-down on the key ingredients (aside from water and yeast).

The Hops!

Hops used in Sam Adam’s Boston Lager.

These little flowers imbue different flavors into the beer. Some of the best hops in the world are grown in Germany which is where Sam Adams sources its Bavarian Noble Hops from.

Malt Barley

Two-row Barley

Sam Adams uses two-row barley which means the seeds grow in two rows on the central stem as opposed to four or six. Two-row barley tends to malt much better than other varieties but at a higher cost. This barley tasted very much like Grape Nuts cereal.

Caramel 60 Malt Barley

Caramel 60 Malt Barley

The barley is roasted, giving it a range of colors which ultimately determines the color of the beer. The Caramel 60 will end up in a darker beer and smells and tastes a lot like a coffee bean.

The Brewery

The Brewery

The brewery floor is much like that of a winery with huge tanks filled with millions of yeast cells hard at work to help us get our buzz later in the tour. They were in the process of replacing some equipment so the brewery floor was filled with brand new equipment still wrapped in plastic (not shown above).

Beers on Tap

Beers on Tap

Here’s the best part of the tour – free beer! Everyone sat in rows of long communal tables as the tour guide and his buddy passed down pitchers of 3 different beers: the Sam Adams Boston Lager, the Marathon 26 crafted specifically for the Boston Marathon, and the seasonal Summer Ale.

Tasting #1: Summer Ale

Tasting #1: Summer Ale

Tasting #2: Boston Lager

Tasting #2: Boston Lager

Tasting #3: Marathon 26 (Exclusive to bars along the Boston Marathon course)

Tasting #3: 26.2 Brew

The Summer Ale was the most refreshing and had light citrus-y notes; Alice was quick to declare this one her favorite. The classic Boston Lager, which we had to try while we were in the city itself, was a more full-bodied brew, rich with roast-y malt flavor. Our third and final tasting is a Boston exclusive – the annual 26.2 Brew. Named for the 26.2 miles in a marathon and particularly for the Boston Marathon that was to take place the week following our visit, this brew is exclusively served at the Brewery and at select bars along the marathon course.

Whether you’re looking for free beer or for fun things to do in Boston, we recommend visiting the Sam Adams Brewery. It definitely helped us appreciate the process and effort that goes into making each glass, pint, and keg.

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Check out Samuel Adams Brewery: samueladams.com

30 Germania St
Boston, MA 02130

See their Yelp reviews here!