My little German kitchen no.3 : The Sauerkraut strudel

strudel plate copyNext to the good old bratwurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut and brezl, the strudel is one of the most famous German dishes. Tesco sell theirs filled with apples and sultanas in a frozen version for £2.99, and most of you might have eaten your Granny’s or neighbour’s homemade one in your childhood. As it is really just filled pastry, the strudel is the German equivalent to the British pie (that’s why we have this pie and mash shop connection going on).
Strangely it’s the sweet versions that got all the PR in the past – hardly anyone has ever really heard of or tried a savory meaty strudel. But you can actually stuff it with almost anything. Obviously that doesn’t mean it will always taste great though…

As I am much more a savoury than a sweet person – my favourite recipe is this
one here:

THE SAUERKRAUT MINCE MEAT STRUDEL

1. The pastry:
People will tell you it’s all about the pastry but I think as long as you roll the pastry thin enough, it’s really all about the filling!
So, some might now scream in shock and horror, but if all that stands between you and a strudel is the dough, then go and buy yourself a frozen puff pastry for £2/pack!

If you have a bit more time on your hands go for this quick version for Puff Pastry Dough: (recipe taken from Dessert Circus by Jacques Torres)

Ingredients:
100g unsalted butter, melted, then back to room temperature
500g plain flour
2 1/2 tea spoons of salt
220g water
300g unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, frozen

Instructions:

  1. Mix the melted butter, flour, salt and water in a big bowl until a dough is formed. Add the frozen butter cubes, make sure they’re evenly spread around.  Form the dough into a ca. 8″ x 10″ x 1″ rectangle, wrap it in plastic foil and rest it in the fridge at least 1 hour, max. 12 hours.
  2. Dust your work surface with flour, roll your dough to a 10″ x 23″ rectangle, fold the short sides to the middle but don’t overlap (it’s called book fold).
  3. Right after the book fold, fold one half over the other half. Rotate the dough so the seam is on your right. Repeat the folding process by rolling out the dough into a 10″ x 23″ rectangle again. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Then give the dough two more whole folding processes like before. After that let the dough rest in fridge for at least an hour before use. At this point it can be stored in the fridge for a day or you can freeze it.

A little tip: When you roll out the dough don’t add to much flour otherwise your pastry will get quite tough. Whenever you feel the dough is getting a little too sticky, chill it in the fridge and let it get hard again. If the dough refuses to spread out, chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes- the gluten in the dough will relax again.

2: The filling – the fun part of the strudel:

Ingredients:
300g beef mince
Half a glass of sauerkraut (450g) – drain, but don’t wash.
Keep the juice!
Half an onion, finely chopped
1,5 tea spoons of juniper berries
1 tea spoon of pepper
2 tea spoons of salt (vegetable salt even better)
1x Maggie cube (or Bovril powder) devolved in half cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of dried chilli flakes
2 sour gherkins (to taste)
Roasted onions (to taste)
Cremé fresh to taste
Organic rapeseed oil to fry
1 table spoon of butter

Instructions:

    1. Heat a little rape seed oil in two pots on the hob.  Pot 1: pour your drained sauerkraut in the pot and stir lightly, add the butter, distribute evenly, add your juniper berries (apart from 5-6 for deco) and your Maggie broth-leave to simmer for 5mins. Pot 2: Add the chopped onions and fry until glassy, add mince meat, salt, pepper, chilli flakes – stir well until cooked thoroughly but not burnt (that’s clear I guess)
    2. Take both pots off the stove – mix sauerkraut and mince meat evenly – taste if you need more salt or spice. I like the sauerkraut to still have a kick as it just tastes oniony otherwise. If it’s washed or cooked too long it loses the kick- you can add sourness with the sauerkraut juice. I love to drink the rest….it’s so sour, it makes your face sweat! If you find it too sour, add a table-spoon of cremé fraiche. Add some chopped gherkins or roasted dried onions if you fancy. Leave the mix to cool.

  1. Strudel rolling: Roll of a baking tray sized piece of baking paper- lay flat on your work surface.  You will need a piece of dough, slightly larger than a tennis ball. Bring it to room temperature ( if you defrost in microwave- make sure it doesn’t get too warm and soft!).  Roll the dough out as thin as possible- it should almost be as big as the baking paper. Spoon your filling about 10 mins. away from the right hand side of the dough – fold your 10cm over the filling and roll carefully with both hands until filling is completely wrapped up – then lift baking paper on right and keep rolling strudel into itself (it should be rolled really tight). The last edge is slightly envelope shaped and will be your top flap-now you can play around a bit with decorations, juniper berries and make sure to prick the top several times (zig-zags, your boyfriend’s name, stars, anything goes)!

4: Baking
Heat your oven to 220 C and bake your strudel on the middle tray for about 15 minutes until crispy and golden.

5: Eating:
Ah, if you are about to bite into your strudel, I am very jealous right now -make it a feast with a little beet root salad (red vine vinegar, nut oil and walnuts) and mix a bit of horse raddish into your left over cremé fraiche as sauce.

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