I am very fortunate to work for a company that encourages it's employees to learn about food. So much so that they provide free classes! The other night I attended a beer tasting class, focused on Oktoberfest style beers, also called Mårzens. We tasted six different domestic Oktoberfests (Schlafly Oktoberfest, Dundee Oktoberfest, Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager, Tin Mill Oktoberfest, New Belgium Hoptober and Avery "The Kaiser" Mårzen).
From what I understand, Oktoberfests are Lagers, which generally have a lighter body than ales, due to the bottom fermenting malts that are used which ferment at lower temperatures, where ales ferment at room temperature and tend to be heavier. In Oktoberfests, the malts are toasted, so a characteristic of this style beer is caramelized, toasty flavors and a deep amber color. These beers go well with grilled sausages, what with the caramelilzation and saltiness of the meat and the carmelization and contrasting sweetness of the beer.
We were fed in this class, complimentary sausages and cheeses to each beer. It was fun and inspiring. Beer and food pairing is pretty simple, really. Our homework? "Drink when you eat and eat when you drink." Oh, twist my arm. So I made an Oktoberfest-themed dinner. Originally I thought of doing some kind of traditional potato, sausage, sauerkraut skillet dinner... like my Grandma makes. But I've been wanting to play with pizza lately, so, at the risk of making it onto This Is Why You're Fat, I decided to make a bratwurst pizza. (Bratwurst nachos? been there, done that. Check out the epic Bratcho Battle.)
I decided to still use potatoes, considering how good potato pizza can be. I skipped sauerkraut, and went with caramelized onions instead, to match the maltiness of the beer. I made a quick skillet sauce with a bit of mustard to give the pizza a slight tangyness to counteract all the potatoey sausagey richness. Also adding a bit of tangy was a goat milk cheddar. Overall the pizza was fantastic with my Oktoberfest beer(s). Welcome, Autumn. Welcome, indeed.
Oktoberfest Bratwurst Pizza
-1 large yellow onion, sliced
-about 3 Tablespoons Olive oil all together
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 large shallot, shopped,
-1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
-1 pizza crust (use your favorite... if you can make your own, great.... mines' from the grocery store deli)
-1 baked potato, sliced
-1 smoked bratwurst (fully cooked), sliced
-Good, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
In a skillet, cook the onions in a splash of olive oil, stirring often, until they are soft, brown and sweet. remove from skillet into a bowl. In the same skillet, cook the garlic and shallot in a couple Tablespoons of olive oil until translucent and starting to brown. De glaze with a splash of beer, cook down for about 20 seconds, then add the mustard, and stir, adding more beer if it needs thinning out into a spreadable consistency.
Spread the mustard sauce on your prepared crust. Top with a layer of sliced potatoes, salt, then the bratwurst, onions and cheese. Bake according to the crust's directions.