Sunday, October 4, 2015

19. Oktoberfest Tacos!


Since I will be working on this taco project for a solid year, I figured I might as well feature some seasonal creations.  Since I am knee-deep in Footloose rehearsals right now (AND we have a concert this week), my taco adventures have had to be compressed into my weekends.  I was still basking in the success of my classic tacos from the other night when I realized that I needed to think of a second idea for this weekend!

It finally dawned on me.  Oktoberfest!  Duh!

I'm excited about this one!  We spent about 10 days in Germany and Austria in May of 2014.  We had a great time!  I had absolutely no complaints about the food.  It was pretty outstanding.  Rather heavy . . . but I got the sense that they do a better job (in general - this is a HUGE generalization) at including vegetables and salads in their meals than we do.  I think it all works out in end, given reasonable portion sizes.

If you ever get a chance to sample a German complimentary hotel breakfast buffet . . . well.  I swear, you will cry every time you go to a Hampton or Best Western from here on out.  (Nothing against those places, but based on my experience, Germany is on a completely different page.)  Fresh fruit, cold cuts, salad dishes, AWESOME bread, ten kinds of preserves, etc.  Seriously.

Sorry . . . I got distracted for a second.  Oktoberfest!  Anyway, I was excited to combine some of the flavors that I associate with German food and adapt them for an American celebration of Oktoberfest.  I decided to go with bratwurst, onions, cabbage, cheese, mustard, and caraway seeds.  And BEER!  I almost forgot about beer.  Since it may have seemed that I was knocking the good old USA a minute ago, I will take a second to mention our beer.  I think the quality and variety of our craft beer scene is unparallelled.  American beer is where it's at!  (As you will see, I managed to work beer into just about every aspect of this recipe.  It's Oktoberfest!)

I was super tempted to make some warm German potato salad with bacon to go on the side, but then I thought, "Really?"  That's just unnecessary.  :)

It goes without saying that, though I was inspired by traditional German flavors, these are NOT authentic.  Obviously.  I think I kind of blew that with the whole "taco" thing.  Ha ha.  If you're from Germany, don't be too hard on me!  This comes from a place of love!  If I had it my way, I'd be sitting near the Rhine river right now drinking some doppelbock.  This place in Bacharach has the best I've ever had.

OK.  Here's the recipe:

Oktoberfest Tacos!

Serves 4 (about 12 small tacos)


For the bratwurst and onion mixture:

One 19 oz. package bratwurst
One 12 oz. bottle or can of Oktoberfest-style beer (You'll see that I included two bottles in the picture.  I thought about using two, but found it unnecessary.  Drink that second bottle.  Or use it for the other parts of the recipe.  You're welcome.)
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 large sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced

For the red cabbage mixture:

1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and grated
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. Oktoberfest style beer
1 whole clove

For the cheese sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Oktoberfest style beer
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup stone ground mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
5 oz. swiss cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

12 street taco-size flour tortillas


1.  Start the brats:  Place the bratwurst, beer, garlic, crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, and the pepper in a small skillet.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and and cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the brats about halfway through.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

2.  Make the cabbage:  Place all of the cabbage ingredients in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cabbage reaches desired doneness.  Set aside and keep covered.

3.  Continue the brat mixture:  Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring, until well caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Season with the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt.  Mine looked like this.

While the onions are cooking, cut each sausage lengthwise into quarters and then slice.  When the onion looks like the picture above, add the sausages.  Increase the heat to medium and cook and stir until the onions and the sausages are browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

4.  While the bratwurst mixture is cooking, make the cheese sauce:  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the flour, and cook, stirring with a whisk, until the butter is just slightly colored, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Add the milk, beer, and cream and stir until smooth.  Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Add the mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine.  Cook at a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.

Turn the heat off and add the cheeses and caraway seeds.  Allow the cheeses to melt and stir to combine.  This is what mine looked like at this point!

Taste, adjust seasonings, and set aside.

5.  Heat the tortillas.  This is a quick step.  You could do this (gently) in a microwave, but I prefer to heat them one by one in a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Using this method, these heated much faster than my usual corn tortillas.  I stacked them up on a sheet of foil and had them done in no time.  Since this was my last step, I didn't need to keep them warm in the oven.  I just wrapped them in the foil while I got ready for the assembly!

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  Top with a small amount of the bratwurst and onion mixture.  Next, add a layer of the red cabbage.  Drizzle some of the cheese sauce over all.  If desired, garnish with fresh chopped parsley!  Enjoy!

There's not much to say about these.  They were outstanding.  Rich and outstanding.  We have plenty for leftovers tomorrow and I'm pretty excited about that.

Steve and I agreed - we really wouldn't change anything.  I loved the cabbage!  I think I'll make it as a side in the future.  It could go with a lot of things.

One disclaimer - this was a bit complicated and created a lot of dirty dishes.  That kind of thing doesn't bother me as long as I have enough time to clean it up.  If you consider making this, just keep it in mind.  It's probably not a 30 minute weeknight meal.  Ha ha.  It is worth it, though, if you have the time.  We loved it!

Update:  We had the leftovers tonight (Monday 10/5) for dinner.  Everything reheated pretty well, and it was just as delicious the second time.  After 2 meals (basically four servings, since there are only two of us), there is still quite a bit of cabbage and cheese sauce leftover.  If you make this, you could probably get away with halving those parts of the recipe.  I don't mind the leftover cabbage.  I'm pretty sure I will eat it.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the extra cheese sauce, though.  It would be good fondue - maybe dip some bread chunks and veggies in it?  Anyway - just a heads up if you decide to try this!

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  Can you think of any other ways to incorporate Oktoberfest into a taco?  :)

Thanks for reading!

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