Growing up on Long Island, just about all of our friends and neighbors were Italian. When I think of the favorite foods from my childhood, I have vivid memories of arancini (fried risotto balls stuffed with cheese), real Italian Ice, cannolis, and boatloads of pizza by the slice from a pizza parlor we could walk to from our house. I think it was a mile or two, and it felt like so long, but I think I'd run 100 miles for that pizza now.
Because I grew up with the Italian food, and my mom is an excellent Italian cook, I felt like I should be a honorary Italian. Besides Oktoberfest, beer and brats, who really knows anything about German food? It's not really known for elegance, romantic dinners and beautiful sounding words. Fettuccini a la Carbonara sounds much prettier than Sauerbraten und Kartoffeln. I loved my German heritage, but it didn't seem as cool or fun as the Greek and Italian dishes and families around me.
While I still find it hard to create diverse German dishes, I've learned to embrace my heritage. Creampuffs may have initiated the change, but it's knowing that the spaetzle press I use was once used by my great-grandmother decades ago. Or the Sauerbraten my mom taught me to make is a really old family dish. And the fact that there aren't many German restaurants open, which makes me feel like I have a hidden gem in my dining room when a German feast hits the table.
While I'm not a Bratwurst eating gal anymore, I still say the more kraut the better. Last fall, JJ and I went to an Oktoberfest and tried deep fried Sauerkraut and Potato fritters at a small booth. They were so delicious, salty, tangy, and crisp. I could have eaten a dozen, and even JJ, who doesn't like anything pickled, enjoyed the fritters. When I saw an ad for the Oktoberfest, I remembered the amazing fritters, and decided to make a baked version at home. These weren't as good as the deep fried fritters, but the flavor was still there and very present. I would serve these with a grainy, German mustard, but I was out. They're great paired with a nice Warsteiner!
Potato and Sauerkraut Fritters
2 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 c. Sauerkraut, drained well
1/4 c. Sour Cream
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 c. breadcrumbs (panko recommended, I used regular fine ground)
Place diced potatoes in a steamer basket, place over boiling water and steam until fork tender.
Cool to room temperature, then add to a mixing bowl with the sour cream.
Use a potato masher and mash potatoes so they're mostly mashed with a few pea-sized chunks of potato.
Add the sauerkraut, paprika and pepper.
Use a spatula to fold in and distribute.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Place mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450*
Add breadcrumbs to a shallow dish.
Form mixture into golf ball sized mounds, roll in breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet.
Repeat until all balls are made, yields around 12-16.
Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
Serve warm with German mustard.