Category Archives: Food

German Sausage: Mettwurst, The Controversial

I am surprised that wars have not been fought over food.  Controversies abound.  People have strong feelings and express them vociferously.

Let me get one thing clear straightaway. I loved the soft, spreadable version of Mettwurst and it will become a regular on appetizer plates and holiday buffets in my house.

Mettwurst plate

Mettwurst on crackers served with pickles and potato salad.

When I picked up a hunk of Mettwurst German sausage  at my neighborhood Dickman’s Meat and Deli, I wanted to continue my education on the many varieties of German sausage.

Mettwurst

The Mettwurst sausage that I bought.

TWO KINDS OF METTWURST

Then I turned to the website for the American sausage company, Steiglmeier, and ran into a brawl. Viewers of the site differed sharply in their ratings of the company’s Mettwurst.

It seems that there are many varieties of Mettwurst.  But unlike other sausages simply seasoned differently depending on what region they come from, Mettwurst comes in two distinct forms as well as in different flavors.  The one from northern Germany comes in a solid smoked link with a strong flavor that you must cook like bratwurst by boiling or grilling.

The  one I bought originated in southern Germany– a soft, spreadable, mild smoked sausage. The spreadable Mettwurst requires no further cooking. (That makes sense because Steiglmeier emphasizes Bavarian meats). Apparently the longer you smoke the chopped pork and beef the harder it gets.

THE CONTROVERSY

So on the Steiglmeier site, those people who had eaten spreadable Mettwurst in Germany, thought the American company did a good job. But those who had visited northern Germany, hotly demanded that Steiglmeier stop calling this sausage Mettwurst, when it did not resemble  the sausage they remembered.  (Sorry, you’ll have to take my word for it, as the company has apparently refreshed its site and removed the comments.)

The whole tempest in a sausage skin reminded me of the Indian tale about the blind men and the elephant. The man who touched only the ear of an elephant  thought the animal was flat and round, while the one who touched the trunk said it was an animal like a python–long and squirmy.

It does seem rather strange that two different sausages would have the same name. According to Wikipedia,  “The Low German word mett, meaning minced pork without bacon, is derived from the Old Saxon word meti (meaning food), and is related to the English word ‘meat’.” I don’t know about you, but knowing that the name of this sausage (wurst) –mett– means chopped pork, or meat, or food–does not really clarify much for me.

WHAT’S IT MADE OF?

The Steiglmeier sausage has both pork and beef, making it the Branschweiger variety. The essential flavoring in this sausage is garlic, and paprika plays a big role in this one as well, giving it a nice pink tint.

I have already written about my appreciation of the spreadable Braunschweiger.  And the style of Mettwurst I bought may be called Braunschweiger Mettwurst. You can find other names for varieties of this sausage on the excellent web site thespruceeeats.com  which also gives a scientific analysis of how the curing process works.

THE ENDLESS SAUSAGE SEARCH

The delicious garlicy Mettwurst  spread on crackers my be my favorite German sausage so far. However, I happened upon a blog post about sausage in Cincinnati that convinced me I have a duty to explore the German culture foods of my own state of Ohio. And that includes those link sausages that also go by the name of Mettwurst. My German ancestors mostly settled in northwestern Ohio as a child I lived either in the northwest or in Columbus, so Cincinnati foods were a world apart.  But, hey, its never too late to try another German sausage.

The German Sausage Series

Weisswurst

Gelbwurst

Krakauerwurst

Blutwurst

Berliner Leberwurst

 

Strawberry Bread and Butter

Strawberry Bread

Strawberry bread and butter with ad for fresh strawberries

I’m trying to think of an excuse to publish these go-together recipes for Strawberry Bread and Strawberry Butter.  It is not a vintage recipe. It is not something I’ve cooked for years as a family favorite, (although this strawberry bread became an instant favorite as soon as we tasted it.) Strawberry bread is not an ethnic recipe brought to America by my ancestors.  I have no excuse. Except that it is delicious. And I think you need a break from German sausage every once in a while.

My first attempt at strawberry bread was a disaster. I reluctantly dumped the bread into the wastebasket, thereby wasting two cups of strawberries. I tried to figure out why this quick break didn’t work. Then I realized that I had substituted almond milk for the dairy milk called for in the recipe I had found on the Internet.

I must warn you that in baking you cannot substitute willy- nilly. There are complexities involved. For instance, there are other recipes that call for regular milk rather than the buttermilk I used. But you can’t just change buttermilk for milk in THIS recipe.

I don’t usually feel confident messing around with recipes for baking. As I pondered all the little complexities of the chemical reactions and effects of heat, etc., I couldn’t help but think about those great-great grandmothers who were cooking on a wood-fire either in a fireplace or in a stove.  Here I have a thermostat and an oven that tells me when it has reached the exact temperature I want and a recipe that specifies baking times, and I STILL get things over or under cooked sometimes.  How in the world did they do it?

Strawberry bread sliced

However, in this case, that first strawberry bread was such a disaster, that I decided I could do it better myself.  I read a few other recipes, thought about what was making things happen, and came up with this recipe. I’m happy to say it was a smashing success.

My husband had begged me not to use any more of those beautiful strawberries on that awful stuff, and after I ignored him and made the second version, he promptly ate 3 slices.  Two days later he was offering to buy more strawberries so I could make more strawberry bread.

The strawberry butter was an afterthought, but as I bit into it, I’m thinking how delicious it would be on biscuits, scones, muffins and anything at all in the bread category. Along with the strawberry bread, strawberry butter is a definite winner.

Strawberry Quick Bread with Strawberry Butter

Serves 12
Prep time 25 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 5 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Bread
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable
When fresh strawberries are in good supply--make several loaves of strawberry bread and freeze it. The strawberry butter will be delish on all kinds of bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Heaping Cup diced strawberries

Strawberry Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/4 cup strawberries (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan
2. Dice strawberries with knife, put in strainer over a bowl to catch juices.
3. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In medium bowl, beat sugar and egg. Add oil, buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
5. Slowly pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until completely blended, but do not overmix.
6. Gently mix strawberries with one tablespoon of flour, and blend into batter.
7. Pour into prepared pan. (You can sprinkle turbinado sugar on top. I did not want extra sugar, so left it off)
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with tented foil for another 35--45 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted in top comes out clean. Better to overbake than underbake. Unlike most quick breads, this will not dry out easily.
9. Let cool in pan 15 minutes or so. Turn out on rack to completely cool before slicing. Serve plain, with strawberry butter (see recipe) or plain butter or cream cheese spread.
Strawberry Butter
10. Let butter come to room temperature. Meanwhile, chop 1/4 cup strawberries fine.
11. Mix strawberries, honey and butter. Spread while soft. Keep any leftover in refrigerator.

Note

Notice that the recipe uses baking SODA not baking POWDER. When you are using buttermilk, you'll always use soda.

Some recipes for strawberry bread put a confectioner sugar glaze or frosting on top. I think that is overkill, but if you're looking more for a cake than a bread--go right ahead.

The amount of sugar may vary according to the sweetness of strawberries and your personal taste. I wanted a minimal amount of additional sweetness.

Don't make the mistake I made earlier of cutting the strawberries in a food processor. Much to mushy.

UPDATE:  When I baked this again, I realized that I had left you with some strawberry juice and no suggestions on what to do with it. Fortunately, it does not go into the bread, the whole point being to remove some of the moisture from the strawberries.  You might stir a spoonful into the butter to intensify the pink color, but I wouldn’t overdo it, because you don’t want your butter to be soupy.

I suggest stirring it into a glass of milk for strawberry milk (almond or other dairy substitute would be fine) or mix a little into a glass of iced tea for extra flavor.  OR–and this is what I did–mix the juice from the strawberries into 1/2 gallon of water and store in the refrigerator. Spa water!!  

 

 

Beyond Brats: Berliner Leberwurst, German Sausage

Lieberwurst

A whole roll of Berliner Leberwurst from Stiglmeier sausages in Illinois, and purchased at Dickman’s Deli in Tucson.

 

Introducing the fifth German sausage that I’m trying–Berliner Leberwurst (liverwurst).  An acquired taste for some people, I seemed to be born liking  liverwurst.   So if you run for the hills at the thought of this paté-like sausage, that’s perfectly okay with me.

Leberwurst serves more as a snack or appetizer than the centerpiece of a meal.  The soft sausage spreads nicely on a cracker or a piece of bread.

 

 

 

Berliner or Bayerische?

Berliner Leberwurst

Rough texture of Berliner Leberwurst

Leberwurst sausage holds the lead place among sausage favorites in Germany. Nearly ever region has its own version. And each of those versions will have slightly different ingredients–but always liver. But what, I wondered, is a BERLINER Leberwurst?  Obviously something that comes from Berlin, but besides that?  Turns out that while the sausage makers describe Berliner as having a milder taste,  the main difference comes in the texture.  While I am used to a very smooth, fine grind for leberwurst, the Berliner leberwurst comes with lumps and bumps.

In checking the Stiglmeier web site, I noticed that they also offer several other types of leberwurst, including a Bayerisch leberwurst that is smoother, finer than the Berliner version. The ancestors I have tracked to Germany so far, generally come from Bavaria, as do several of the German Sausages that I have featured here. Maybe that explains my preference for the smoother deli-style leberwurst, and I’ll be looking for that at my neighborhood butcher shop.

Berliner Leberwurst

Berliner Leberwurst ingredients.

What is In the Sausage?

As we have seen with other sausages, “what is in the sausage” is sometimes a question better not asked.

The Stiglmeier company makes the coarse-ground sausage of

“Pork Liver, Pork, Pork Snouts, Onions, Salt, Spices, Sugar, Garlic, Marjoram, Sodium Erythorbate, Dextrose, Sodium Nitrite.”

If you weren’t turned off by the thought of the paté- like texture, the ‘pork snouts’ in the ingredients ought to chase you away.

How to Eat Berliner Leberwurst

So if it is not a centerpiece of a meal, like knackwurst or bratwurst, how do you eat Berliner (or any other) leberwurst?

One thing is missing here–if I could, I’d add a large slice of sweet onion. I can’t eat onions but when I was young, I’d eat that combo as often as my mother bought leberwurst (also sometimes called braunschweiger).

Did I Like Berliner Leberwurst?

Not as much as I liked the finer grind of liverwurst that I am used to.Those lumps you see in the picture are sometimes too hard to chew.

Want to Make Your Own?

This site has some interesting insights on the love of Germans for their leberwurst, and a recipe (no pig snouts required!)

The German Sausage Series

Weisswurst

Gelbwurst

Krakauerwurst

Blutwurst