Tag: Traditional Foods of Germany

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Rehrückenfilet (venison fillet)

One of the great traditional dishes of Germany, venison fillet has many clerks and cloaks yet has always remained rustic. It can be presented with a plain, seasoned, herb and nut or an aromatic crust. It can be accompanied by a range of purées – apple, chestnut, parsnip, pumpkin, wild mushroom – and sauces – chilli and chocolate, cranberry, fig, horseradish, mustard – and served with mustard potatoes, potato noodles (spätzle), red cabbage and any number of fruits and vegetables.


  • 600 g venison fillet
  • 150 ml game stock
  • 30 ml rapeseed oil
  • 10 black peppercorns, partly ground
  • 5 juniper berries, partly ground
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch


  • 150 ml game stock
  • 90 g shallots, sliced
  • 30 ml rapeseed oil
  • 15 g red currant jelly
  • Black pepper, large pinch
  • Nutmeg, freshly grated, large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Preheat oven to 100°C.

Combine black peppercorns, juniper berries, nutmeg and salt, rub into fillet and set aside for five minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat, brown the fillet on all sides.

Place on an ovenproof dish, bake in oven for an hour.

Deglaze the pan with stock, keep warm over a low heat.

In a second frying pan, heat the oil and sauté shallots until soft.

Transfer shallots to the first pan, continue to cook for 15 minutes. Stir in jelly and reduce.

Remove fillet from oven, leave to rest for five minutes, cut into thick slices.

Serve with the sauce, some spätzle and a good red wine.

Another Version


  • 600 g venison fillet
  • 100 ml game stock
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 g green peppercorns in brine
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 5 g green pepper, fine ground
  • 5 g salt, fine ground

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Season the fillet with ground green pepper and salt.

Heat butter and oil in an ovenproof pan, brown the fillet on all sides to seal in the flavour, remove from heat.

Pour the stock into the pan, add green peppercorns, put in the oven, bake for 15 minutes.

Prepare choice of accompaniment.

Remove fillet from oven, leave to rest for five minutes, cut into thick slices.

Legendary Dishes | Wirsing Untereinander (Savoy cabbage with bacon and onion)

  • 1 kg Savoy cabbage, leaf ribs and stalk removed, cut into strips
  • 250 g onion, sliced thin
  • 150 g pancetta / speck, cubed small
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 ml wine
  • 5 salt
  • 5 g black pepper

Gently fry the fatty cubes of bacon until they begin to release their fat, add the butter and onions. Sauté for five minutes.

Add remaining bacon cubes, increase heat, fry until the onion starts to take on colour at the edges.

Add the cabbage, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Deglaze with wine, cover and cook over a medium heat until the cabbage is al dente.

Season and serve with potatoes and sausages.

Indigenous Ingredients

Savoy Cabbage

Legendary Dishes | Gehacktesbällchen (beef meatballs)


The traditional meatball in Germany was always a liasion – a delicate preparation with chopped or minced beef, stale bread, egg and seasonings – served generally in a soup or with a sauce.

Occasionally a small onion or a shallot, a teaspoon or two of mustard and a garden herb would be added to give some depth of flavour to the meat.

Meatballs cooked in a broth to make meatball soup is a tradition shared by all the northern European countries.

Some cooks would add root vegetables.

In Germany meatballs were cooked in a meat broth with potatoes and sometimes the meatballs flavoured the potato water.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • 50 g onion / shallots, chopped small (optional)
  • 50 g stale bread soaked in 175 ml full-fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp mustard (optional)
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 3 sage leaves / 3 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • Oil, for frying

Press liquid out of bread and transfer to the shallots. Leave them to soften for about an hour, then add to the beef with the bread. Combine with the egg, mustard, egg, thyme and seasonings, knead into a loose dough.

Divide into 30 gram pieces, shape into small balls.

Brown in a frying pan for a few minutes.

Serve in soup, or in a sauce.

Legendary Dishes | Kartoffelsuppe mit Hackbällchen (potato soup with meatballs)

  • 1.5 litres water
  • 600 g potatoes, peeled, cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 500 g beef mince with high fat content
  • 150 g onion, sliced
  • 16 croutons 2 cm cubed
  • 5 g + 5 g salt
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs, for garnish
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp oil, for frying

Place the potatoes in a pot with the water, add salt and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer.

Combine the mince with the seasonings, shape into 50 gram balls. Heat frying pan, add oil and fry the balls in batches over a high heat. Remove to a plate.

Add a little more oil to the pan, fry onions until they start to take on colour at the edges.

Add the meatballs, onions and seasonings to the potato pot.

Deglaze the frying pan with a tablespoon of liquid from the potato pot, add the deglazed liquid to the pot.

Cook for 30 minutes, until the potatoes have melted into the soup.

Serve with a garnish of croutons and herbs.

Condiments | Birnbrotgewürz (pear bread seasoning)


Use fresh whole spices and grind small quantities at a time. The amount is for a total of 50 grams, sufficient for a large batch of pear breads.

Version 1

  • 30 g cloves, ground
  • 10 g cinnamon, ground
  • 5 g ginger powder
  • 2 g coriander, ground
  • 2 g star anise, ground
  • 1 g cardamom, ground

Version 2

  • 25 g ginger powder
  • 5 g cinnamon, ground
  • 5 g cloves, ground
  • 3 g allspice, ground
  • 2 g coriander, ground
  • 2 g fennel, ground
  • 2 g nutmeg, ground
  • 2 g cardamom, ground
  • 2 g star anise, ground
  • 2 g white pepper, ground

Version 3

  • 25 g coriander, ground
  • 10 g cloves, ground
  • 10 g cinnamon. ground
  • 5 g star anise. ground

PEOPLE + PLACE + PRODUCE | The Story of Fränkischer Grünkern (Franconian green corn)


The good people of Neckar-Odenwald want to share their unique cuisine using the unripe grains of Bauländer spelt, which are sold as Fränkischer Grünkern.

They have produced a book – Hauptsache Grünkern (Mainly Greencorn) – with 150 grünkern-themed recipes.

Recently awarded geographical indicator status by the European Union, grünkern is amazingly popular in southern Germany, where a greencorn festival has been held every year in Kupprichhausen since 1978.

They can be bought from Zimmermann Mill.

Legendary Dishes | Kartoffel Speck Omeletten (potato bacon omelette)


The Swiss cook their omelette with bacon and potato like a thin rösti cake, the Germans also treat it like a cake and bake it in the oven for a dish called pillekuchen while the Austrians add cheese to their version, and serve bacon on the side with steamed mushrooms. This is the Swiss version.

  • 400 g new potatoes, boiled in skins, peeled, grated
  • 6 small eggs / 5 large eggs for approximately 300 grams
  • 200 g speck with fat, cubed small
  • 90 g cream
  • 15 g butter
  • 1 tbsp tarragon, chopped + 1 tbsp tarragon, for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, halved along length
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt

Place the fatty cubes of bacon into a small frying pan. Over a gentle heat release the fat. When the cubes turn brown, remove. Increase heat a little, add the pieces of garlic. When it turns brown remove with a slotted spoon. Pour the garlic fat into a small bowl.

Fry remaining cubes of bacon over a gentle heat until they take on some colour, leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs into the cream, season, add the grated potatoes and choice of herb.

Add a quarter of the garlic fat and a knob of butter to a small frying pan over a medium-low heat. Pour a quarter of the egg-cream-potato mixture to the pan, dot with a quarter of the bacon cubes. Fry for seven minutes, flip and fry the other side, just long enough for the omelette to come away from the side of the pan.

Repeat with remaining ingredients.

The Austrian and German versions will follow …

Legendary Dishes | Spinatknödel (spinach dumplings)

  • 500 g spinach, chopped
  • 200 g breadcrumbs
  • 150 ml sour cream / cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 30 g + 60 g butter
  • 90 g onion, chopped small
  • 45 g parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped small
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • Nutmeg, large pinch

Sauté onion and garlic in 30 grams of butter over a low heat for ten minutes, add spinach, increase heat and cook until the leaves wilt, evaporate liquid, leave to cool.

Whisk the eggs into the cream cheese or sour cream.

Combine the breadcrumbs, cream mixture and spinach mixture in a bowl, add seasonings, parsley and one tablespoon of flour, leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Make dumplings with wet hands. Roll in flour.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot, reduce heat to a simmer, add dumplings. Cook until they rise to the surface.

Serve with browned butter and parmigiano.

Breads of Europe | Laugengebäck / Laugenbrötchen {Nieules / Brezels / Pretzels} (lye breads)


The pretzel has come a long way from its origins in medieval France, somehow managing to retain its shape and, remarkably, the method of baking.

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, in her History of Food, believes its origin was a delicacy called nieules or nioles sold at French fairs.

‘They were twisted ribbons of hard, unleavened dough, cooked in boiling water with the ashes of vine shoots, which contain natural potash. They gave the dough a dark colour, whence their French name and their savoury, smoky flavour.’

The nieules were drained, dried and baked in the oven.

How they came to have a peculiar shape is told in The Great European Food Adventure.

In the 1680s the Huguenot bakers of these delicate biscuit-breads migrated to the southern German states and the northern Swiss cantons.

The nieule became the bretzeln, and over time became to be known as brezel, then laugenbrezel and laugengebäck in Baden, Bavaria and Swabia, laugenbrötli in Basel, Berne, Lucerne and Zurich.

The method of using potassium hydroxide from vine ash was replaced with sodium hydroxide or lye (lauge in German), and eventually with baking soda.

Laugengebäck (lye pastry), laugenbrezel (lye pretzel) and laugenbröd (lye bread) are interchangeable these days, but the method has not changed.
The shaped dough is boiled briefly in soda water (commercial makers use a salt bath) before baking.

In Switzerland a starch glaze made from a cornflour solution gives the pretzel its distinctive colour.

Pretzels are rarely made bald in Germany and Switzerland, and are never ordinary, coming in various shapes (buns, loaves, rolls, sticks and twists), not least the famous knotted-handles.

They are coated with coarse salt, seeds or with a topping of cheese and, depending on the region you are in, are available with an assortment of savoury or sweet fillings.


  • 500 g white wheat flour, t550
  • 245 ml water
  • 40 g butter
  • 25 g yeast
  • 15 g malt extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Lye / Soda Solution

  • 2 litres water
  • 50 g baking soda

Sieve the flour into a large bowl, crumble yeast into the flour followed by the sugar and half of the water, stir with a wooden spoon into a loose dough, cover and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Desired dough temperature is 23°C.

Add remaining water, butter, malt and salt. Work into a soft smooth dough, knead for ten minutes. Leave to rise for an hour.

On a floured surface cut the dough into 16 pieces (roughly 50g each), shape into rounds or oblongs. Place on heavily greased baking trays.
With a sharp knife cut a cross in the rounds or several slashes in the oblongs. Leave to rise covered for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Bring the soda solution to a rolling boil, drop the dough into the water four at a time for no longer than 60 seconds.

Place on greased baking trays and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Legendary Dishes | Kirschtorte (cherry and chocolate cake)


There are as many stories about the origins of this kirsch-flavoured cake as there are variations of the recipe. Josef Keller, pastry chef in Café Ahrend in Bad Godesberg, is credited with inventing the Black Forest (Schwarzwalder) version in 1915. He passed his recipe to August Schaefer. His son Claus made the original cake at Café Schaefer in Triberg until 31 December 2020 when the cafe closed 150 years after it had opened.

Kirsch, the clear cherry brandy made from the dark red sour berries of the Black Forest in south-west Germany, identifies kirschtorte with the region but there are occasional doubts about the cake‘s geographical authenticity.

The claim that the cake represents the women‘s costume of the region (black like the dress, cream like the blouse and cherries like the red balls of adornment) is seen as a tourist entrapment.

These days it does not matter where kirschtorte originated. This delicious cherry-chocolate cake is now omnipotent.

Flan Dough

  • 4 eggs
  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 200 g sugar
  • 170 g white wheat flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 8 g baking powder
  • Bicarbonate of soda, large pinch

Preheat oven to 180°C. Whisk eggs and sugar until foamy. Sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Fold into egg-sugar mixture. Pour into mould. Bake for 30 minutes. Divide cake into two equal pieces.


  • 800 ml cream
  • 400 g sour cherries
  • 250 ml sour cherry juice
  • 100 ml kirschwasser
  • 50 g chocolate flakes
  • 50 g vanilla sugar

Whip cream with sugar. Boil cherry juice until syrupy, leave to cool, stir in three-quarters of the cherries and a splash of kirsch. Spread on first base. Follow with a layer of piped cream and another splash of kirsch. Place second base on top. Pipe on remaining cream, decorate with chocolate flakes and remaining cherries.

Legendary Dishes | Blumenkohlauflauf mit Kasseler und Kartoffeln (baked cauliflower with smoked pork and potatoes)



  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 kg potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 500 g smoked pork, sliced thin
  • 300 g carrots, cubed small (optional)
  • 5 g salt


  • 300 ml crème fraîche / sour cream
  • 200 ml vegetable stock, home-cooked
  • 150 g semi-hard cheese, grated
  • 60 g shallots, sliced thin
  • 50 g hard cheese (e.g. parmigiano), grated
  • 30 g blue cheese (optional)
  • 30 g butter
  • 2 tbsp white wheat flour
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g nutmeg, grated
  • 5 g paprika
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 2 sprigs parsley

Cook cauliflower, onions and potatoes together in salted water for 5 minutes. If using cook carrots separately in salted water.

Fry shallots in butter, dust with flour, sauté for a minute or two. Stir in the vegetable broth and cream, season. Add the semi-hard cheese and, if using the blue cheese. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Layer the cauliflower in a baking dish followed by the potatoes, onions and smoked pork pieces.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables, sprinkle with hard cheese.

Bake at 175°C for 45 minutes.

Serve garnished with parsley.


Legendary Dishes | Lübecker Ente (Lübeck stuffed duck with sauce)


Duck stuffed with apples and raisins is one of the traditional dishes of Lübeck in north-eastern Germany, where duck is an indigenous ingredient. A member of the Hanseatic League, Lübeck was known as the ‘Queen of the Hanse’ because of its attractive Gothic architecture, and especially because of its rustic cuisine.


  • 1.75 kg – 2 kg duck
  • 500 g sour apples, peeled, quartered, diced
  • 250 ml white wine
  • 100 g bread, cubed, toasted / breadcrumbs
  • 100 ml kirschwasser / liquer / rum
  • 100 g raisins
  • 3 tbsp white wine
  • 15 g duck fat
  • 5 sage leaves, sliced small
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 10 g salt
  • Cardamom, pinch
  • Cinnamon, pinch


  • 15 g butter
  • 1 duck liver, thin sliced

Soak raisins overnight in choice of alcohol.

Heat duck fat in a large frying pan, steam the apple cubes in the fat, add bread cubes or breacrumbs, season with spices. Add raisins and sage, remove from heat.

Duck stuffed with apples and raisins

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Rub the cavity with salt and pepper. Add the stuffing, sew to close the gap or use toothpicks.

Roast the duck chest-side up for 45 minutes, then turn over and roast for another 45 minutes. Turn again and roast until the duck is cooked. Each time baste the duck with the juices in the cooking tray.

Remove from the tray and leave to rest covered with foil.

Meanwhile sauté the liver in butter until it turns brown, add the liquid from the tray. Usually the filling will burst through, so take some of this filling and stir it into the liver. Add the white wine and reduce.

Take stuffing from the duck, carve the duck. Serve with stuffing and sauce and dumplings.

Food Products — Mettwürst (smoked sausage)


A cold smoked raw sausage made with beef, pork and spices, the mettwürst is defined by its subtle differences and regional variations. The length of smoking determines its fate, a long smoke results in a hard sausage, a short smoke in a soft sausage. The hard versions are used in soups and stews, the soft versions in salads and snacks.

The mettwürst is associated with numerous traditional dishes, the bean and sausage soup of Luxembourg and surrounding regions, the kale and sausage dish of north-west Germany, the pot stew of Austria and Germany and dishes that require a sausage that will hold its shape during the cooking process.

Legendary Dishes | Speckknödel (bacon dumplings)


Knödelen art has been taken to new levels in recent years, with the Austrians, Germans and Slovakians keen to show that their versions and methods filled-dumplings are unrivalled.

Dumplings made with the cured bacon known as speck in Austria and Germany are among the most popular. There are two distinct versions, of Bavaria and of the Tyrol.

For other dumplings of the knödeln variety and to learn a little about the dumpling story go here.


  • 250 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 250 g white bread rolls, cubed
  • 150 g speck (smoked ham), diced small
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g onion, chopped small
  • 50 g butter
  • 30 g + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram, dried, crushed
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Whisk the eggs into the milk, pour into a large bowl containing the bread cubes, leave to soak for 30 minutes. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry for five minutes. Add the onion to the pan, fry for ten minutes until the onion is soft. Leave to cool. Season the bread mixture. Add the bacon-onion mixture, parsley and marjoram to the bread mixture, add two tablespoons of flour, work into a dough and leave for 30 minutes. Dust a work surface with flour. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, reduce to simmer. Using moistened hands shape the dough into balls, each about 5 cm in diameter. Roll the balls in the flour. Simmer balls in stages in the pot. When the balls dance to the surface, they are ready. Remove with a slotted spoon. Brown under a hot grill for a bit of colour.


  • 300 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 300 g white bread, cubed
  • 150 g speck (smoked ham), diced small
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g onion, chopped small
  • 3 tbsp white wheat flour (optional)
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Whisk eggs into the milk, add bread, combine and leave to rest for 30 minutes until the bread has absorbed all the liquid. Sweat the Tyrolean bacon cubes with chopped onions, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow to cool slightly and add to the dumpling bread. Fold in the parsley and if using the flour. Using a tablespoon and with moist hands, shape into small dumplings. Cook dumplings in salted water for about 15 minutes. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, drain and serve the dumplings in hot meat soup sprinkled with chives or simply as a side dish.