German cuisine reminds us of American food in its emphasis on meat and potatoes, but the focus on sweet and sour flavors is strictly German. Explore some of our very favorite German recipes.
Sweet and Savory
Popular sweet and sour dishes like sauerbraten (which combines a sour marinade with a sweet sauce) reveal a taste for flavors that hearken back to medieval cooking, when such combinations were popular across Europe. Vinegars, sugar, and fruits provide popular piquant sauces.
"This is a traditional German beet salad with a simple apple cider vinegar dressing and caraway seeds," says Naschkatze. "You can also make it with roasted beets, but in Germany the beets are usually boiled."
"The 24-hour marinade ensures these succulent short ribs have that signature tanginess of Sauerbraten," says Chef John. "Gingersnaps give the sauce a beautiful texture and add a sweet spiciness." See how Chef John does it:
Chicken thighs are baked with red cabbage, bacon, and apple in a sweet and sour sauce. "I adore Bavarian cuisine," says HerbanSpoons. "And since there's no good German food here (while I lived in San Francisco, my husband and I ate at wonderful German/Hungarian restaurants there), I have to make my own...This recipe is crazy simple."
Meat is Major
Roasted meats (braten), schnitzels, and sausages (there are more than 1,000 varieties) are star players of the German dinner plate. The prominence of meat-eating in German culture goes back to ancient times: Romans derided Germanic tribes for their vigorous meat consumption.
"This easy German recipe is one of our favorites," says Loves2CookinMN. The recipe calls for veal cutlets. But as Loves2CookinMN points out, "Boneless pork chops can be substituted for veal and taste excellent!"
A flavorful beer glaze coats bratwurst or knockwurst sausages and onions served over sauerkraut. "We love this dish served on potato rolls with spicy hot German mustard, Swiss cheese, and ice cold beer on the side," says JTk364.
"For something that looks and tastes as impressive as this beef rouladen, it's actually one of the simplest stuffed meat recipes I know," says Chef John. "You can pretty much use any cheap cut of beef; I used round steak, but rump, chuck, flap meat, and other similar cuts will work work." See how Chef John does it:
A Taste for the Tuber
The German love of potatoes--enjoyed in salads, dumplings and pancakes--is rivaled only by the Irish. But it wasn't always so. In the mid-1700s, Frederick the Great of Prussia demanded that dubious peasants plant the curious kartoffel. Fondness followed, but gradually.
Basic boiled potatoes dressed simply with parsley are the perfect complement to bratwurst with mustard or schnitzel. For a special treat, serve them with Uli's Onion Bacon Sauce and Apple Red Cabbage.
Mayo-free German-style potato salad is served warm in a tangy dressing made with cider vinegar and dry mustard. "We loved it," says Helene. "Simple to make and oh-so delicious. It was an easy to make side to go with our meal."
Bratkartoffeln, wedged potatoes seasoned with curry powder and paprika and baked until crispy, are Germany's answer to home fries. "Potato wedges with a kick! Great for those who love curry," says Melaknee.
Not feeling like potatoes? These tiny German "micro-dumplings" are made with a flour-based batter. "They cook in a just a few minutes," says Chef John, "and are great plain with browned butter or topped with slowly braised meat."
BONUS RECIPE! German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelkloesse)
"Soft, comforting potato dumplings drizzled in browned butter and topped with, sorry, not bacon, but something even better!" says Chef John. "For best results, roast, don't boil, the potatoes so they're nice and dry. Yes, you can top these dumplings with bacon anyway, and/or sautéed onions and mushroom sauce. I served mine with sausage and red cabbage."