This month, we are finishing up our series of European Cuisine by highlighting authentic German recipes. If you want to see other articles in our European Cuisine series, you can find French recipes here and Italian recipes here.
This series has kept its focus on sharing recipes that reflect the cultural influences from a culinary perspective. We highlight recipes that are traditional and commonly found in Germany. Oma Gerhild Fulson, is one of the main chefs quoted in this article so we wanted to share a little bit about her. She was born in Germany and moved with her parents to Canada as a toddler, where her “mutti” (mom) learned how to use Canadian ingredients to recreate traditional recipes that reminded her of home. “Oma” (granny) Gerhild created a blog and several cookbooks based on the traditions she learned from her “mutti” and has been interviewed several times. She shares both traditional and “easier” versions of her recipes and helps connect the history, culture and stories behind them. We hope you love her as much as we do.
If you find yourself considering a career in culinary arts, we think the recipes from “Oma” and others would be fun for you to use as you practice your skills and familiarity with different foods. You can read over them and make your own version or make the recipes individually and test them with your family and friends to see which one is their favorite. Most importantly, have fun while you practice your skills!
“’What is the national dish of Germany?’ This is an often-asked question but is often difficult to answer. Simply stated, with Germany being made up of a mix of cultures and regions, there really isn’t just one national dish. Most regions have their own favorites, but among the very top ones are sauerbraten and rouladen.”
Sauerbraten is a traditional German pot roast that is marinated anywhere from 2 hours to 5 days; the longer the better. Then it is slow cooked to create a tender beef dinner. It’s commonly served with spaetzle, dumplings, rotkohl (red cabbage), or other veggies.
“Usually beef, such as a boneless beef chuck roast, a rump roast, or a top round roast is used for sauerbraten. Originally, horse meat was used, but that isn’t common now-a-days. However, a pork roast, venison, or lamb are sometimes used for this marinated German-style pot roast.”
Here are some recipes to try:
- Quick German Recipes – Sauerbraten Recipe
- House of Nash Eats – Sauerbraten Recipe
- Taste of Home – Slow Cooker Sauerbraten
Rouladen is thin slices of beef spread with mustard, pickles, onions, and sometimes bacon and then rolled, pinned and slow cooked.
“This traditional German beef Rouladen recipe, aka beef rolls, steak rolls or beef birds, served with potato dumplings and red cabbage is my most cherished German food from my childhood and still our very favorite.
What could be better than to serve this as your traditional German Christmas food or other holidays or birthdays…or anytime you have something special to celebrate?”
“The best cuts of beef to use for this recipe are the outside or bottom round, or rump roast (silverside in the UK) because it comes from the hind quarter just above the leg. Topside, which is located above the outside or bottom round cut, is a leaner, slightly more tender cut.
Find this secondary cut of beef (or veal) at your local grocery store or request it at your butcher.
Select beef that is cut into thin layers approximately the same width as your hand and slightly longer than a piece of bacon. This cut is best cooked low and slow so that the meat breaks down and becomes quite tender.”
- Dish in the Kitchen – German Beef Rouladen Rinderroladen
- Quick German Recipes – Beef Rouladen Recipe
- German Culture – Beef Rouladen, German Beef Rolls (this recipe uses caramelized onions…yum!)
Cabbage is one of the most traditional ingredients in German side dishes. It is used to make red cabbage, sauerkraut, and soup.
Red Cabbage (aka Rotkohl)
“Easy to make, yet tastes best reheated, so make it ahead of time if you can. Red cabbage recipes are really a staple for German cooking. They go particularly well with hearty meats such as beef, pork, game, turkey — well, just about everything!”
- Quick German Recipes – Red Cabbage
- Taste of Home – Oktoberfest Red Cabbage
- Where is my Spoon – German Red Cabbage
- House of Nash Eats – German Red Cabbage Rotkohl
Sauerkraut and Sauerkraut Soup
“This easy recipe for sauerkraut is a staple in our German menu. It’s delicious with almost anything. Yes, sauerkraut goes with pork, beef, sausage, noodles, potatoes, dumplings, etc. It goes into casseroles, into soups, on sausages, etc.
If you’re vegan, you’ll enjoy this as a wunderbar side dish to almost anything. And you know sauerkraut is so healthy! One of my favorites German foods, it’s similar to a Bavarian sauerkraut with its final seasoning having sugar added.”
- Quick German Recipes – Recipe for Sauerkraut
- Natasha’s Kitchen – Sauerkraut Soup Recipe Kapustnyak
- Taste of Home – Slow-Cooked Sauerkraut Soup
“One of the most common desserts that Germany is often identified with is Apfelstrudel or Apple Strudel. Although it really is more of an Austrian specialty and goes back a long time at least to the 17th century. There is an old handwritten Strudel recipe in the Vienna Library dating back to 1696.
The word Strudel is a Germanic word for Whirlpool. I can just see someone back then saying, “Can I please have some of that stuff that looks like”, (and they spin their fingers) and say “whirlpool”?
It is undoubtedly the most popular type of Strudel. However you shouldn’t limit yourself to just Apfel strudel. There are other fruit strudels, Cheese strudels, Nut strudels to Kraut Strudels.
Like with many dishes, this one is a fusion of different cultures. The pastry most often used is a thin pastry that was invented most likely by the Turks, although the Greeks often lay claim to it.”
- Taste of Home – German Apple Studel
- Taste of Home – Oktoberfest Strudels (savory)
- My German Recipes – Apple Strudel Apfelstrudel
- Kitchen Project – Mushroom Strudel