Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Dinner Party

Hi friends! As I continue my goal of one dinner party a month, during 2012, I give you my version of Oktoberfest!

My menu was going to be a quintessential take on my grandmother's menu. To start, I'd make my grandmother's potato dumplings. They are crazy good, but really hideous! They are also a cheap way to use up stale bread and to stretch a few potatoes. I'd make sauerkraut, but my take on it! And then there would be an amazing pork roast.

The February dinner party was mid-week. I had to apologize to my guests. Since I was coming straight home from work, I didn't have time to have the table pre-set and covered with linens and candles and all fancy pants. You know what? That's not important! If you have great company and good food, that's all you need. Cheers!

The Dumplings!
The potato dumplings are store bought sandwich bread, broken into little pieces and mixed with salt & pepper and pureed, raw potatoes. (pureed with water). Squish it all together and make smallish, baseball sized balls. Boil and serve, with gravy! The above photo are the uncooked, formed dumplings.

These are the cooked dumplings. I think they take about 14 minutes to cook. In a big pot of boiling water, add them, give them a gentle stir, so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. And let them cook until they float to the top of the water. Give them a few more minutes to cook all the way through. The first time you make them, test one by cutting in half and making sure it's cooked through & hot all the way. Serve these babies piping hot.

Sidenote about the dumplings. When I was a kid, we'd reheat them either cut in half/chunks and covered in gravy. Or, if mom was being awesome, she'd slice them and fry them in butter. The outsides would get a little crispy and the inside would stay soft and hot. Still, best served with gravy.

The Roast!
The roast is this. A big fatty piece of pork. Season with salt, pepper and a mild spice blend. Sear it in hot oil, then braise it until it goes to heaven. Braising liquid includes white wine, cider and broth. Include some fresh thyme, bay leaf and chunks of onion and carrots. I let this roast go for several hours. The bone slipped out and the rest of the roast pulled apart with the back of a spoon! Pull into large chunks and remove excess fat. Save the braising liquid. Drain excess fat and use it to make a gravy. I cooked the roast a few days in advance, it hangs out in the fridge very nicely. Reheat in a pot, with some liquid, over low heat. I used the gravy, which I also made in advance, and a little water.

The Sauerkraut!
For the suaerkraut, I use "fresh" kraut. Usually found either in the meat section of the grocer, or the dairy section. Rinse the kraut. Then, in a roasting pan, add 1/2-1 grated, peeled apple. A splash of apple cider and chicken broth. A pinch or two of caraway seeds and some salt & pepper. Cover, and cook until heated through. Remove the cover and let roast for a few more minutes. A few pieces of kraut will caramelize. Super tasty. Tangy and a little bitter without being pungent and IN YOUR FACE!

Serve it all up, nice and hot! I added some roasted green beans (it's a favorite), a good German or Austrian dry white wine, or beer!

Dinner was lovely. We talked for hours afterwards, especially about what was inspiring us, creatively!

Stay tuned...the March party is right around the corner. Just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Menu is selected. And, since it is also a mid-week meal, much of it will be made in advance on the weekend. Mmmm, delicious!