Saturday, October 2, 2010

Celebrate Oktoberfest!

By Head Chef,Orlo Coots.

On Thursday, September 30, “Dine Around the World” with Adair Country Inn & Restaurant as we travel to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest with a special three-course German menu. Oktoberfest has become one of the world’s great festivals and is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Due to several interruptions, though, this is the 177th time it has been held.

Oktoberfest began in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. In a rare occurrence, the general public was invited and over 40,000 Bavarians attended the festivities in front of the city gates of Munich. Through the years, the event has evolved into the largest festival in the world, featuring amusement rides, an agricultural fair held every three years, parades, concerts, costume and riflemen’s processions and, of course, the famous Oktoberfest beer tents sponsored by many of Germany’s top breweries. There is also an endless stream of hearty and satisfying German foods.

Oktoberfest celebrations are held throughout the world during September and October. Bratwursts, schnitzel, strudel, Black Forest cake, pretzels, cabbage and sauerkraut are just a few of the German specialties that are served and eaten by German food and beer lovers during the events. They are all washed down with seasonal Oktoberfest lager beers, brewed especially for the celebration. The traditional style guidelines describe an amber-gold lager, robust at 5.2 to 6 percent alcohol by volume, lagered for at least a month, with pronounced malt flavors from Vienna malts, usually accented by the German noble hops such as Hallertau and Tettnang. An Oktoberfest lager is brewed very much like the reddish-amber Marzen beer that was served at the Crown Prince's wedding in 1810.

For our Oktoberfest celebration at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant, we will present a traditional menu of bratwurst or potato pancakes, schnitzel or chicken paprikash accompanied with spaetzle and braised cabbage, and, for dessert, German Black Forest chocolate cake. I have been researching and testing recipes and will prepare everything from scratch for an authentic German flavor. To keep the celebration proper, plenty of Oktoberfest lager will be poured.

While it is not required, guests on September 30 should feel free to dress in suspenders and Lederhosen for the men and a dirndl, the traditional folk costume of Bavaria, for the women. We look forward to welcoming you to this celebration of German food, beer and fun. Prosit!
During Oktoberfest, plenty of pretzels are served, such as this Homemade Soft German Pretzel:

1 package of active dry yeast (1-1/2 tsp)
1 cup warm water
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 TB of salad oil
1 TB of sugar
6 TB of baking soda in 6 cups water
Coarse salt (kosher salt works great)

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add 1-1/2 cups of the flour, the oil, and sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes to make a smooth batter. Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and satiny (about 5 minutes) adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour).

Punch down dough, turn out onto a floured board, and divide into 12 pieces. Shape each into a smooth ball by gently kneading. Then roll each into a smooth rope about 18 inches long, and twist into a pretzel shape. Place slightly apart on a greased baking sheet, turning loose ends underneath. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft free area until puffy (about 25 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a 3-quart stainless steel or enameled pan (not aluminum) bring soda water to a boil; adjust water to keep water boiling gently. With a slotted spatula, lower 1 pretzel at a time into pan. Let simmer for 10 seconds on each side, then lift from water, drain briefly on spatula, and return to re-greased baking sheet. Let dry briefly, then sprinkle with coarse salt and let stand, uncovered, until all have simmered.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to racks; serve warm with medium hot mustard. Or let cool completely, wrap airtight, and freeze. To reheat, place frozen on ungreased baking sheets and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until hot. Makes 1 dozen pretzels.

— Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking by making a reservation at 603-444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this recipe or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

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