by / Monday, October 18, 2010

Oktoberfest Pizza!

What do you think of when you think Oktoberfest?  Pizza...right!?  No?  Okay, me neither.  I think BEER!  But I also think bratwurst and hearty bread and lederhosen and beer wenches in puffy peasant blouses with laced up bodices and braids on each side of her head. What can I say?  It's definitely been a dream of mine for a long time to get over to Germany and celebrate it "for real' one of these years!  So, being October...and being that Joanne chose Germany as our Regional Recipes destination this year...I have Oktoberfest on the brain!

That said...I've also had pizza on my mind this month...for a couple of reasons.  One that no longer matters...and another that does.  Our flick of the month over at Food 'n Flix this month, chosen by my co-host Ree, just so happens to be Mystic Pizza! I don't think I'd actually sat down and watched that since the eighties until this month...and now I've watched it three times (and subsequently ordered and received my very own copy from swap-a-dvd)!  It's so fun seeing the likes of Vincent D'onofrio, Julia Roberts, Conchata Ferrell, and Lili Taylor (girl-crush!) 20-some years younger.

So tell me...what's a girl to do!?  Combine the cravings and turn them into one delicious meal. That's what.  I knew right away that I wanted to use currywurst sauce in place of the normal tomato sauce.  I first tried it a couple of years ago when I saw it in Saveur magazine.  This sauce actually has its own museum in Berlin...and as many variations as there are regions.It's usually eaten over some potatoes and sausage...a fast-food delight! 

Currywurst Sauce
adapted from SAVEUR #101
yield: ~2 c.

2 Tbs. Olive Oil
4 small yellow onions, slice thin
1 Tbs. Hot Madras Curry Powder
1 Tbs. Hot Paprika
~2 c. whole, peeled tomatoes w/ juices
1/3 c. sugar
¼ c. red wine vinegar
sea salt

Heat oil over medium.  Add onion and sauté until soft and turning golden.  Sprinkle in curry and paprika and stir for another minute.

Crush tomatoes with your hands right into the pan.  Add sugar, vinegar and salt to taste.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until thickened, ~25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Purée in a blender and store in an airtight jar/container in refrigerator.

 I wanted to use a German-style dough as a base...a crust...so I used some of the Bavarian-style Whole Grain Pumpernickel that I made the other day. 
Next up...German-ish toppings.  I chose Gouda cheese since it's been made in Germany for the past 200 years and one of the most popular cheeses in the country.  I wanted Bratwurst, for sure.  Potatoes to sort of marry that currywurst and brats with the classic taste of that favorite German snack food.  Some bacon because...well...I don't really need a reason to put bacon on anything, do I?  Some sauerkraut and some onion...top it off with some chives for a little green.  Aw yeah.
Oktoberfest Pizza
from the kitchen of girlichef
yield: 1 large pizza (8-10 slices)

Bavarian-style Whole Grain Pumpernickel dough- 1 lb. (recipe here)
currywurst sauce- ~¼ - ½c. (see recipe above)
gouda cheese, shredded- ~8 oz.
bratwurst, removed from its casings- ~5 oz.
yukon gold potatoes, sliced- 2 or 3
bacon, sliced- ~½ lb.
sauerkraut, squeezed dry- ~½ c.
small onion, sliced thin- 1
freshly snipped chives

Begin by preparing your toppings.  Cook the bratwurst in a medium-sized pan until browned and cooked through.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Add bacon to pan and cook until done.  Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate.  Add potatoes to the grease left in the pan and cook until tender, golden and falling apart in spots.  Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate.  Set out all of your ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400° F, with pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Once the oven is hot, roll your dough out, using a bit of flour to keep it from sticking, to desired size.  I did this on a marble slab then transferred to a pizza peel (ie. warped cutting board) that was sprinkled well with cornmeal.  Quickly spread sauce, then cheese then all of the other toppings besides the chives over the pizza. Slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot stone.  Bake for ~8-10 mins., or until crust is done and cheese is golden and melty.  Sprinkle with chives and serve.
The tips of some of my bacon burnt at this temperature...but it didn't taste burnt.  I'm thinking next time I'll cook the bacon until it's still a bit too floppy...and then it'll finish cooking up just right when it goes back into the oven!
Are you a bit leary of the combo?  Don't be!  It's is so complex and fabulous.  The taste sensation is so different from what you're expecting when you bite into a pizza.  It's definitely grown-up, though...my kiddos sort of went--- eeehhhh {insert combination shoulder, lip, cheekbone, eyebrow raise}.
Fine by me.  More Oktoberfest Pizza for mommy to wash down with her dark German beer.  That makes mommy happy.
The moral of the story.  Pizza can be German.  Not much of a moral. Okay...the moral of the story... Sometimes it's good to mix things up. ...or perhaps...  Change can be good. ...or maybe even...  You never know until you've tried it.  Okay, there really is no moral.

Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.


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