Monday, February 8, 2010

Sovereign State #10: Austria

Bockwurst mit Bohnen und Sauerkraut

Weiner Schnitzel

Austria, land of fluffy dumplings, meaty sausages, and chocolate cake toothaches.  Sure, it was once a hotbed for fascist idealism but times have changed.  The Hapsburgs are no longer watching over the country like a creepy, deformed, Bavarian hillbilly cult (sort of like The Hills Have Eyes but wearing lederhosen).  These were dark times especially when the Burgermeister Meisterburger no longer let the children play with toys or celebrate Christmas.  But that's not the Austria of today.  Austria has once again become the lovable cabbage picking nation it was meant to be.  

Vienna, the capitol, is actually the heart of Austria and it's cuisine.  Perhaps it's most famous creation is Weiner Schnitzel.   A simple yet tasty dish of pounded out veal fillets (veal is traditional but some Austrians prefer using pork), breaded and fried.  The crispy steak is generally served with parsley and lemon.  That's it.  So good it hurts.  Here's my recipe:

Weiner Schnitzel 
2 pounds veal chops, pounded out to 1/2" thickness
1 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups bread crumbs, also seasoned
1/8 cup canola oil for frying
lemon wedges
fresh parsley, chopped

Season the veal with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour. In a shallow dish, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Coat the veal with egg mixture, then with bread crumbs.   Heat 1/4 cup oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Fry veal until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve with lemon and parsley.

Luckily enough, here in Seattle we are blessed with the amazing Bavarian Meats shop in Pike Place Market which carry a ton of amazing German and Austrian style meats.  I chatted with the woman behind the counter a little bit and told her I was going to cook an Austrian meal.  She said that I needed to get bockwurst and spicy bratwursts.  I took her advice and added some Bavarian bacon to my bag of meat as well.  As I was leaving, the nice lady offered me some free weiners and I snacked on my cold hotdogs all the way home.  For the wurstknöedel I decided to use the spicy bratwurst for the filling.  Wurstknöedel is a dumpling made of mashed potatoes and flour and stuffed with sausage.  The sausage was sour, and cheesy, and spicy from the specks of jalapeno peppers.  So stinking delicious.  I made the dough and rolled out some into wonton sized rounds.  Added a Tbsp of chopped up filling and sealed them up into little tennis ball sized dumplings.  I think I worked the dough a little too much because the dumplings were a tiny bit gluey but they tasted phenomenal.  I served them with a little roasted chicken gravy and sauerkraut.    

For the tasty bockwurst I simply simmered them in sauerkraut and made some white beans with fresh dill and bacon.  Bockwurst is traditional made from veal and pork and has a slightly sickly look to them.  Sort of an off greyish white color.  Perhaps like the bloated index finger of a tall, dead person.  But don't let that get you down, they are so delicious, kind of like an fat, ugly hotdog on crack.  Creamy and meaty.  Super yummy.  Sometimes they are even made with horse meat but not here in the states so you don'y have to worry if you're an equestrian.  The beans were simply made by cooking chopped Bavarian bacon until crispy.  I removed the bacon to paper towel, and sauteed some garlic, onion, celery, and carrots in the bacon fat until soft.  I then added some drained, canned white beans and simmers for about 5 minutes and finished with fresh dill, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon.  Salt and pepper of course.  It was a blindingly white arrangement of food but it was a great, simple meal and it was inexpensive to boot.  I love Austrian food.  Sour and meaty.  Two of my favorite things.

For more info on this project, read this: 203 Sovereign States

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