Hello, my name is Heidi. Classic German name right? I even fit the demo: blue eyes and blonde hair—thanks more to my colorist than my genes as I’ve gotten older—but I can still claim it, right? Please say yes. Please.
You might think I was named after the classic children’s book, or maybe an ancestor who traipsed about the countryside, blonde braids wrapped about her bobbing head as she delivered steins of brew to very happy citizens.
Well, that’s about half right.
Yes, it’s a pretty German name and my German immigrant grandmother was pleased with the choice, but my naming was also influenced by another Heidi, a family friend who did indeed deliver beer. Back in the day she and her husband owned the oldest bar in Utah complete with a stuffed head of a St. Bernard on one wall and dollar bills pinned to the ceiling. Heidi was gorgeous, blonde and the funnest person in the one-room joint. Let’s just say that legend has it that the top of the bar saw the bottom of her heels more than once. Am I like her? Buy me a drink sometime and maybe you’ll find out for yourself.
At our home, dishes from my youth like Weinerschnitzel and Rouladen often displaced the classic American favorites like Pot Roast and Roast Chicken that my husband’s family grew up with. They’re the flavors I was brought up on. Liverwurst and pickles instead of peanut butter and jelly.
So when Oktoberfest rolls around I’m happy to stand in line, bellying up to pickled cabbage and black forest cake.
This virtual Oktoberfest feast starts with the cornerstone of nearly every German-American picnic or Superbowl game day: Bratwurst.
I love brats. I love them steamed, grilled and even boiled. Give me a slather of grainy mustard and a brat on a soft bun and I am good to go.
Our friend Tim hails from Wisconsin and although he now lives in Los Angeles, his heart still hankers for the midwest. Wisconsin is a U.S. State with a bevy of German descendants. Who like beer. And football. And sausage.
A few years ago Tim cooked us his famous bratwurst for a Superbowl get together. Stewed in beer with sliced onions and then loaded on soft rolls and my favorite grainy mustard, the only thing missing were the pickles. But I’m a picklehead and that’s just my opinion.
This recipe is a riff on Tim’s version, but pretty close to his intent. And as delicious as I remember.
- 6 bratwurst sausages
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1½ onions, thickly sliced
- 1 12-ounce bottle amber ale or nut brown ale
- 6 hoagie buns
- In a cast iron or regular skillet, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Nestle bratwurst among onions, add bottle of ale and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally until beer cooks down and is evaporated. Remove onions and set aside. Raise the heat to medium high and brown sausages evenly on all sides. Serve on hoagie buns with onions and coarse, grainy mustard. Add sauerkraut if desired.
Get ready to gorge, it’s time to don your lederhosen and load up your steins. Prost!
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