The first weekend on October usually welcomes cooler weather and a rejuvenated menu. So many new flavors and ingredients come with fall and we will have plenty of time to dig into those in later weeks. What we are celebrating this weekend is Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest is a celebration of Bavarian culture and is most known for the plethora of beer consumed during the fortnight. But the underlying foundation is the food of Bavaria. Usually, this includes rich, savory feasts, but with the WVU-Kansas game starting at noon, we, unfortunately, don’t have time for roasted meats. Instead, we will celebrate Munich, the capital of the state.
That’s right, let’s pretend we are German with a traditional Munich breakfast.
Sausage is the food that comes to mind first when someone mentions German food. In fact, Wikipedia lists at least 43 varieties of German sausage, or “wurst.” In Munich, this white sausage made of minced veal is usually eaten in the morning because it doesn’t contain preservatives.
These sausages are usually boiled, and served in warm salty water to keep them ready to eat. Now, at a tailgate, this may not be the best method of cooking, but there are certainly ways to boil sausages on the grill.
First, take a shallow aluminum pan and fill it with an inch of water. Bring it to a boil, then add a few pinches of salt. Cut the heat from the grill and add the sausages to the pan, cook for 10 minutes.
Serve these by with a sweet mustard on the side, but there is a very correct way to eat weisswurst.
Soft Pretzels (Brezel)
What’s an Oktoberfest celebration without a pretzel? This soft, brown, twisted bread is a staple of Bavarian culture—they even have a special kind just for breakfast! These can be made the night before the tailgate and heated up on the grill.
The key to making pretzels is the lye bath (this recipe just uses salt and baking soda) before cooking. This makes the pretzel a pretzel. It’s not the twist or the dough, it’s the bath before baking the bread.
You can twist these to make large pretzels like normal OR you can make them into bites like this recipe shows. Depending on how many people you have at your tailgate, I like the round bites idea.
The traditional Oktoberfest beer is characterized as a “Marzen” here in the states. This amber, sweet lager is more akin to the older styles of beer served in Munich at the festival. The current beers use paler malts, so the beer looks more golden. Basically, American Oktoberfest beers are based off an older style of lagers. But if you drink any decent lager, you should be OK with the Oktoberfest rules.
In the spirit of Oktoberfest, drink up! And in the spirit of Homecoming, offer food and beer to your Mountaineer friends.
Remember, Mountaineers don’t lose tailgates!