On a family ski trip a few years back, my father and I wound up dining at a certain unnamed restaurant in Taos, New Mexico, where the overarching theme was lederhosen, braided pigtails, lots of logs, and steins und steins of beer. Snowed into my apartment in New York City, I've taken to reminiscing about the quaint atmosphere, charming in its unabashed artificiality—the folk music and ye olde German fonts, the tiled wood-burning stove, and, most importantly, the hearty Bavarian fare, all a surprisingly welcome respite from the chill.
My wardrobe may be short a dirndl or two, but I put my heater on full blast and set out to create my very own slice of Bavaria-on-New Mexico, starring some of Germany's most beloved wintery classics. Here's what we've got!
First things first, we can hardly set out on a culinary journey to the, erm, "Bavarian Alps" without a round or three of German brews. Get started with our Beginner's Guide to German Beers, chased with a look though our pairing suggestions for pilsners, wheat beers, and even smoked brews and Oktoberfest specials.
Pork Schnitzel Meatballs
It doesn't get much more German than schnitzel. This twist takes the classic pounded and breaded cutlets and transforms them into an appetizer-worthy finger food. But once the seasoned meatballs are breaded and deep fried, they'll still deliver on that crisp-to-juicy contrast. A finishing squeeze of tart lemon juice is all you'll need to tie it all together.
Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Raisins
I always suspected that apples and cabbage would play well together, but little did I know that they're actually secret best friends. A dash of cider vinegar in the braise cuts their natural sweetness with some bright acidity, while caraway coaxes out the cabbage's earthier notes. Studded with plump, tender raisins, it's a sweet and tangy side that delivers equally on texture, color, and warmth.
German Potato Salad
American potato salad is strictly a summer dish in my family. But this vinegar- and oil-based German version, which gets a smoky undertone from a generous dose of chopped bacon, has always had a heartier winter feel. Topped with a sprinkle of parsley and chives, it's simultaneously refreshing and comforting, perfect for rounding out a cold weather meal.
Turkey Weisswurst (White German-Style Sausage)
Weisswurst, though typically made with veal and bacon, lends itself well to this turkey-based adaptation. The smooth, hot dog-like sausages are seasoned with lemon zest, ginger, nutmeg, and parsley and cooked in the traditional manner, simmered in water until cooked through. We like to break the mold and finish ours on the stove-top for a nice, browned exterior.
Of course, making your own sausages can be a lot of work, so we won't tell if you skip this step for a store-bought variety. Or, if you're still up for a cooking project but don't care for smooth, emulsified sausages, then go for these grilled bratwursts with sauerkraut instead!
Pretzels don't have to come in twists—here, that same dough is made into a roll for a warm and chewy baked side. Sprinkled with sea salt, they're great for spreading with some spicy beer mustard or sandwiching those piping hot brats.
My top pick is this cranberry, apple, and walnut strudel, wrapped up in a delicate, golden puff pastry. But if you're looking for something truly eye-catching, there's always this stunner of a German double-chocolate cake. Just know that it comes with a minor disclaimer—the dish technically hails from the distant land of Dorchester, Massachusetts.
About the author: Niki Achitoff-Gray is the associate editor of Serious Eats and a recent graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She's pretty big into oysters, offal, and most edible things. You can follow her on Twitter at @eatandcry.