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Celebrate Oktoberfest 2011

Serve beer, brats and some German chocolate cake

Octoberfest Dishes, choucroute with meat and sauerkraut

Octoberfest dishes, choucroute with meat and sauerkraut — Photo by: StockFood/Getty Images

The German-born Oktoberfest is known for the trinity of beer, brats and braid-sporting barmaids, but it's easy to incorporate some of the fun of the season into a more low-key meal or get-together. Impress your guests with homemade sauerkraut and pretzels, feast on bratwurst and choucroute, and finish off the celebrations with traditional German chocolate cake.

See also: Apple cider with a kick.

Meat:

Germany boasts over 1,500 varieties of sausage (wurst) and thousands of types of cold cuts.

Sauerbraten by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner: This marinated, slow-cooked pot roast is served as a main course, often with potato dumplings and a side of vegetables. The leftovers are just as good for lunch, thinly sliced and eaten on thick bread with braised red cabbage and mustard.

Bratwurst in Ale by Mimi Sheraton: Bratwurst can refer to sausages made of veal, beef or pork, and is usually pan-fried, grilled or boiled in beer or broth. This version cooks the bratwurst by simmering them in a light beer or ale.

Sausages Braised in Beer With Sauerkraut by Mark Peel: This recipe braises sausage links in a dark German beer — try Schwarzbier, Dunkler Bock, Rauchbier or Doppelbock.

Beer and Caraway Braised Bratwurst by Adam Perry Lang: German kitchens use caraway in many dishes, from sauerkraut to breads and cheeses. It's believed to help digestion and lends a specific flavor that blends well with the grilled sweet onions and mustard in this recipe.

Choucroute by Christopher Idone: Choucroute is a French version of the German 'dressed sauerkraut,' prepared hot with meat and vegetables. This version includes garlic sausages, bacon, bratwursts, weisswursts and smoked pork chops.

A vegetarian option: Tempeh Choucroute Garnie by Robin Robertson: This meat- and dairy-free take includes the German flavors of onions, potatoes, sauerkraut, caraway and juniper berries. It's a hearty dish satisfying enough for carnivorous eaters as well.

Appetizers and sides:

German Potato Dumplings by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner: Perfect to serve alongside sauerbraten or with hearty braised bratwurst.

Baker's Pretzels by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford

Schwabisch Pretzels by Greg Patent

The shape of the traditional pretzel is echoed in the sig that hangs over bakers' shop doors in Germany and Austria. Both of these yeast pretzel recipes are slightly sweetened with malt.

Next: More Oktoberfest appetizers and dessert. >>

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