Subtitle: The Subtle Art of Hitting Meat with a Hammer
Long before I knew anything about European cuisine, I was familiar with the term Wiener Schnitzel. Well, sort of. My mom baked us frozen “Wiener schnitzel” from M & M Meat Shop every once in a while. But I didn’t know that Wiener means “from Wien”, or that Wien is the actual name of the city English-speakers call Vienna. I also didn’t know that “schnitzel” is related to the word schnitte, which means “slice.” Wiener Schnitzel is a piece of veal, traditionally from the leg, pounded out with a mallet, breaded, and fried.
I love veal, but I almost never have it in my house. It’s hard to come … Continue reading.
In Vienna these links are called Frankfurter Würstl, named for the city Frankfurt am Main in Germany. In most of the rest of the world (including Frankfurt) they are called Wieners, which means “Viennese.” Go figure. Whatever you call them they are the ancestor of the North American hot dog.
The old world version is usually 100% pork in delicate lamb casings, lightly smoked. North American hot dogs can be pork, beef, or a combination of the two, usually in synthetic casings.
I link mine extra long, so they barely fit on a dinner plate.
To emulate the very fine texture of the commercial varieties I grind twice through a 3/16″ plate, and then do a lengthy mixing phase, roughly … Continue reading.
Styrian pumpkin seed oil (Steirisches Kürbiskernöl in German) is a remarkable artisan product.
Styria (Steiermarck in German) is a province in the southeastern part of Austria. Here and in parts of adjacent Slovenia they grow pumpkins that produce hull-less seeds. These seeds are roasted and pressed to produce a fabulous oil that puts all other pumpkin seed oils to shame. Whereas most North American versions are a yellow-brown colour, Styrian pumpkin seed oil is deep forest green, and powerfully redolent of roasted nuts.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find a high-quality Styrian pumpkin seed oil at any of the continental import shops in Edmonton like K & K. To get my fix I purchase online from … Continue reading.
Goualsh is a beef stew originally from Hungary but eaten all over Central Europe. It is the kind of preparation that Europeans will fight to the death over. Matters like whether it is properly called a stew or a soup, whether it contains tomatoes, or potatoes, or what starch it is served with (if any) often become violent. It is estimated that 12 Europeans are killed every year in goulash-related arguments.
The following is an original recipe, inspired by the goulash made at Seewirtshaus in Semmering, Austria. When I worked there they made a goulash similar to this using Maiboc (May deer) and served it with Serviettenknödel. Many would take exception to my use of tomato paste and … Continue reading.
Spätzle are little dumplings. They are sometimes described as egg noodles, though they are quite different than the broad, flat, twisted dried pasta sold as egg noodles.
In former times spätzle were shaped by cutting small pieces of dough with a knife or spoon and rolling them into a pot of boiling water. This process gives the noodles a long, tapered, vaguely avian appearance, which is the alleged origin of their name, which literally means “little sparrows”.
Originally a specialty of Swabia in the far south-east of Germany, spätzle is now common throughout southern Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Shorter, more rounded versions are sometimes called knöpfli, which means little buttons.
These days most spätzle is made using a special board … Continue reading.
Some shameless self-promotion: if the type of information contained in this post interests you at all, I’m going to be hosting a tasting of sparkling wines on Thursday, February 11, as part of Little Brick’s Home School series.
I’ve been meaning to write about Austrian wine for some time. Years, actually: ever since I wrote this post on Heurigen, which are rural taverns that serve young wine and cider.
Last week the Elm wine group did a tasting of Grüner Veltliner, the national grape of Austria, so I thought I would finally put down some info on Austrian wine.
If you haven’t had Austrian wine before, you’re not a freak or a philistine: there isn’t a whole … Continue reading.
This is a tasty spread I often serve at Austrian cooking classes.
Liptauer is originally from Liptov, in Slovakia, formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The dish became quite popular in Austria-proper, and is now considered a classic part of that country’s cuisine.
In Austria Liptauer is made with a soft, fresh cheese called Topfen. Topf is the German word for pot, so Topfen can be translated as “pot cheese”. It goes by the name Quark (pronounced “KVARK”) in many other parts of Europe. Austrians will scoff, but the recipe below approximates Topfen by using a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream.
Besides cheese, the other essential ingredient in Liptauer is paprika, which is ubiquitous in several Eastern … Continue reading.
Preßwurst, transliterated “presswurst” and pronounced “PRESS-voorst,” is Austrian headcheese.
Headcheese is a polarizing preparation with a terrible name, but I think borrowing a trick from Preßwurst can make headcheese much more palatable to North Americans.
Both dishes are made from pork head and trotter. The meat is brine-cured so it is rosy pink, then simmered until tender. The meat is strained, shredded, and packed into a mold with some of the gelatin-rich cooking liquid, which firms into aspic when chilled. Full details on the procedure can be found in this post.
The most important way in which Austrian Preßwurst differs from North American headcheese is that after being packed into the mold, a heavy weight is rested on … Continue reading.
Schmalzfleisch is one of the staple Aufstriche (spreads) at an Austrian Heuriger. If that sentence made absolutely no sense to you, read this post before proceeding.
Schmalzfleisch literally means “fat-meat”. It is one of several dishes Austrians have developed to use up irregular scraps of cured meat, like the very end of a ham that can’t quite be passed through the meat slicer.
The process for making Schmalzfleisch is simple: pieces of cured meat are ground, then mixed with rendered lard to form a cohesive paste that can be spread on bread. Traditionally cured meat and fat are the only two ingredients. I like to add a touch of mustard for balancing acidity.
If you grew up in … Continue reading.
Schweinsbraten literally means “roasted pork”. If you order it in an Austrian restaurant, you will get a slice of greyish meat, usually but not always from the shoulder of the animal. If you order it in an Austrian Heuriger, you will get something a bit different.
All the food at a Heuriger is served cold, and meat is typically cured. Schweinsbraten at a Heuriger is cured, like ham. What makes this particular ham so special is the cut of meat it is made from: the Schopf.
The Schopf extends forward from the loin of the pig, into the shoulder primal. It has the same round cross-section as the loin, only it also has a very healthy amount of … Continue reading.