Layered Bavarian Oktoberfest Casserole

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 22, 2011 at 2:29 PM

 

2 lbs. "B" size red creamer potatoes
1 tsp. caraway seed
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. spicy brown mustard
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 small gherkin pickles, diced
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash Frank Davis Hot Sauce
12 oz. minced lean bacon + drippings
1 cup onions, finely diced
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbsp. juniper berries
4 cups sauerkraut, drained and squeezed
2 cans corn beef, defatted and shredded
2 lbs. knackwurst, boiled and cooled, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 cups imported Swiss cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. parsley, minced

First, take a large saucepan and cook the potatoes-covered--in a small amount of boiling water for about 25 minutes or until they are fork-tender. Then drain, cool, peel, chill and thinly slice them and set them aside for a while.

Next, using a mortar and pestle, coarsely crush the caraway seeds and combine them in a mixing bowl with the vinegar, mustard, cornstarch, sugar, pepper, Worcestershire, hot sauce, pickles and capers. Then set the mixture aside too.

At this point, take a small skillet, place it over medium heat, render out the bacon, and cook the chopped onions in the pan drippings. When they turn a rich golden brown, remove them from the skillet and deglaze the pan with the white wine. When a rich stock forms, drop in the juniper berries and the sauerkraut and simmer everything for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauerkraut is heated thoroughly.

Now's the time to build your casserole, and you do that by taking an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish and-in order-layer in half of the potatoes, sauerkraut, sausage, corned beef, and cheese. Then stir the caraway seed mixture briskly to combine all the ingredients once again. Then spoon it evenly on top of the cheese.

All that's left now is to repeat the layers (with the exception of the Swiss cheese) and bake it uncovered at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until hot and steamy. Then a few moments before you're ready to eat, remove the casserole from the oven, generously top it with the remaining Swiss cheese, and garnish it with parsley. The only other thing that could make it perfect would be to serve it with a good heavy German bread and butter!

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Chef's Notes:

1. You can use Pyrex or Corningware to bake this casserole, but I find it comes out just fine in the disposable aluminum baking pans you buy at the supermarket. Because the cheese will have a tendency to stick to the pan, the disposable route allows you to serve the casserole and then toss the pan, rather than having to spend hours at the sink scrubbing off burned cheese. Just a suggestion.

2. Don't buy the canned sauerkraut to make this dish! It is much too harsh and vinegary. Best results come from using the refrigerated Claussen brand which is found in glass containers in the cooler section at most major grocery stores.

3. Be sure to thoroughly wash, drain, and squeeze the sauerkraut before incorporating it into the casserole. Washing minimizes the vinegar taste and squeezing prevents the casserole from turning watery at the base.

4. Because it contains less salt and fat, I also prefer Hormel Corned Beef for this recipe. When you open the can, take a butter knife and gently scrape away the trace of fat surrounding the formed beef. Then, on a cutting board, use a dinner fork to shred the meat.

5. Knackwurst can be found in most specialty stores. It can also be found in the cooler section alongside the hotdogs, the bacon, and the smoked sausage most major supermarkets. By the way, the casserole comes out best if you poach the knackwursts in hot water for about 6 minutes before cutting them into slices.
 

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