Ode to Oktoberfest
Some seven years ago, we opened the back yard as a German Bier Garten to celebrate Oktoberfest as the autumn festival that usually emphasizes merrymaking and the consumption of beer. I guess you could say this has become tradition....
Some seven years ago, we opened the back yard as a German Bier Garten to celebrate Oktoberfest as the autumn festival that usually emphasizes merrymaking and the consumption of beer. I guess you could say this has become tradition. Here are the party details that have made this event so successful as an annual event and a marker of fall. Life is about creating memories!
We have not messed with tradition. I will share our party secrets here, The guests are requested to bring a six pack of beer plus an appetizer to pass. We tap a few folks who are known for their desserts to bring sweet treats as it is always important to have a strong finish. The festivities begin with beer tastings as we have a beer loving crew for this event. From about 7 – 8:30 in the evening, many new varieties of barley beverages are tasted and critiqued. Some folks will brew their own beers to showcase for this event, others will make special trips to beer specialty stores for their contribution. No Bud Light is permitted this evening! Homemade Pretzels are a long-standing tradition this this appetizer table as well as Beer Cheese Dips and Sweet Onion Dips. Then, the traditional German Fare is served of fresh Bratwurst from a European Sausage Shoppe in Atlanta, Sauerkraut, Browned Onions, Mustards and homemade German Potato Salad. We are fortunate that one friend is a master bread maker and she will delight us with some of her homemade treats. We will special order rolls from an area bakery topped with traditional poppy seeds. This menu has not changed over the years and everyone awaits this reveal.
The sausages sit in a beer bath before they are par-boiled and then grilled. I do this the morning of the event and serve these warmed in the oven over a bed of browned onions and some added beer. The German Potato Salad is also created the morning of the party and also warmed in the oven. This salad is the perfect fare to serve with the brats and we have yet to find a restaurant/deli that can create this side salad so it is always home-made. I will share a recipe for this vinegary treat that I leaned to make as a child from a dear friend of my grandmother. Mitzie was always asked to bring this side dish to events and one day she was generous to share the recipe. Nothing was measured in my first lesson with Mitzie, I remember having to stop and measure behind her to create a recipe in her tiny kitchen. I took over her tradition of this recipe and she was always pleased when I would create this in her honor.
German Potato Salad
- 2 pounds potatoes, cooked. I prefer reds and I cook them whole with the skins on.
- ½ cup onions, chopped fine
- ½ cup celery, chopped fine
- ½ pound bacon, cut into 1/2 –inch pieces and fried. Save all bacon drippings
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup vinegar. I like the added punch of white but others prefer apple cider
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
- Cook the whole potatoes until tender. Cool slightly, peel and slice. I often will use my egg slicer for uniformity and ease.
- Over my years, I have learned to layer these potatoes in a deep casserole or Dutch Oven, as I do not want to break-up the potato slices, I add the celery and onion combination along with the salt and pepper seasonings to the layers along with the crumbled bacon. I have not stirred this mixture as I was taught as this can break-up the potatoes too much.
- Again, I add the sauce to each layer and omit stirring this mixture.
- Combine the celery and onions and set aside.
- Saute the bacon until crisp. Set aside the cooked bacon and use the drippings to create the sauce/gravy for this salad.
- To the bacon drippings adds the flour and heat until bubbling stirring occasionally. You want no lumps in this mixture.
- Add cold water all at once and heat until it forms a medium sauce. Then, add in the sugar and vinegar to finish this sauce.
- Pour this sauce over each layer of potatoes, onions and celery, seasonings and crumbled bacon.
- Warm in the oven covered for about 45 minutes at 250 – 300 degrees.. Garnish with Paprika. Some will also garnish with slices of hard boiled eggs.
- This recipe serves about 6 – 8.
So, in the case of our Oktoberfest, the Grilled Brats and German Potato Salad are warming in the oven when our guests arrive so we can enjoy the party. It is always important in entertaining to have as much prepared in advance so that you too can enjoy the festivities. I warm the brats in a casserole dish on-top of grilled onions. I will also add a beer here to keep them moist. I cover these brats in the warming process as well.
Following these German Treats the Dining Room table will be filled with a Triple Chocolate Cake, something Pumpkin, a Kentucky Butter Cake and maybe even an Old Fashioned Carrot Cake… because we must finish strong! Ask your friends who are the bakers to create their famous items over crafting an appetizer for this event.. As the hostess, you do not need to do everything! Your party participants want to help and be a part of the festivities. It is your job to coordinate the treats for this event.
The secret to this event has been audience participation, great friends and a love of tradition. Life is all about creating memories!