The Deutsch, she triumphs

December 13, 2009

“Ve haf vays of making you eat….”

I have cleaned house. My laundry is done. My sheets are changed. My kitchen counters are bare of any extraneous crap that doesn’t sit there on a planned basis. I could serve dinner on my dining table.

Sometimes, my Germanic heritage just comes oozing out. Today, it was because I had leftover German potato salad.

It ain't the Austrian Village. But it's my very own.

So to go WITH said potato salad, we are having red cabbage and sausages and meatballs in mustard cream sauce. Because it seemed like the thing to do at the time. Paw Caplinger, he of the beard down to mid-chest and the horribly homely wife in the circa 1890 photograph, would be proud.

(Paw, by the way, was Hiram Smith Corbit Caplinger, and was my great-great grandfather. Obviously I never knew him, but when I was a kid, I was scared to death of him and Maw Caplinger, as my grandmother referred to them, just based on that photo. They were some scary lookin’ folks.)

The cabbage recipe is the Nigella Lawson one that I keep tweaking in an attempt to get it as close to the Austrian Village model as possible. Last time, when I went by the recipe, it didn’t have enough vinegar; this time, I got it just about right, at about 1/8 cup. I also added a handful of sauerkraut, because I found a recipe that suggested that, and it sounded like a good plan. Because I needed sauerkraut to go in the meatballs, which are a brand new recipe that intrigued me enough I had to give them a whirl.

Found this one on the ‘net today:

  • 1/2 pound ground beef or veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 small apple, minced fine
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, shape into balls, and fry until well browned on all sides.

Now, as you might imagine, I departed from the recipe early on, chiefly because I did not have any ground pork or veal, so it’s all ground beef. I duly blended my ingredients and commenced to fry my meatballs, which commenced to fall apart.  This is, in large part, my fault. You have to let these babies get a GOOD crust on each side before you flip them with a fork that you just edge underneath them and flip them to a new side. They need to look almost burnt. And one of my significant cooking failings is to try to turn things well before they should be turned, which is NEVER a good idea.

In any event, I got ’em fried and draining on a paper towel lined plate. And then I chunked up a pound of brats, cutting them in thirds (inch and a half chunks) and seared those, because Child C is bringing home friends, and I see no reason why meatballs and brats ought not cozy up to each other.

Which is where I departed from the recipe yet again.

The original recipe called for nestling the meatballs in the cabbage and baking it. Child C does not eat red cabbage. I figure it’s a safe bet her friends won’t, either. So what can I do to these meatballs? What’s Germanic? Mustard cream sauce, that’s what.

Deglazed the pan with some white wine. It should have been Riesling, but I had no Riesling, so it was chardonnay. Let that reduce by half or a little more. Added a cup of chicken broth. Took clothes out of the dryer while THAT reduced by about half. Added about half a cup of cream and a couple tablespoons of whole-grain mustard and a few grinds of pepper. Turned the heat to low, let that heat back up, tasted it; too tart. Added about a teaspoon of honey, and put the meatballs and sausages back in.

Folks, that’s a keeper. I’m getting the cabbage closer and closer to the AV standard. The potato salad is still good. The sausages and meatballs are happy as can be in the mustard cream sauce. (They’re not real PRETTY, but they’re happy.) And I’m polishing off a good part of the rest of this chardonnay.

And now I have to put laundry away. Right about the time I’m running plumb out of gas for the day. So you and y’mama ‘n ’em make it an early night, so you’ll be up and rarin’ to go in the morning. (OK, OK, it sounded good. Maybe I’ll eventually convince myself.)

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