The gods of rain clearly had an issue with me and my intention to grill for this 6th IMBB. All my plans to get a little grill up and running where constantly frustrated by the rain that seemed to fall every time I just mentioned grilling: it could be almost sunny all day long at work but as soon as I got home it would start to drizzle. After a week of cloud observation and careful weather forecast hearing I decided to abandon the actual grilling idea, with connected swearing and bad mood, and instead, to dig out my grilling pan as an acceptable substitute. I guess that reveals I'm not a real Thuringian. Grilling here is serious stuff: I know a few guys who grill once a week, every week, whatever the weather. It must be fun trying to eat hot bratwurst while outside there's snow and the temperature is minus 15C! So, while not following this die hard grilling philosophy I couldn't avoid taking inspiration at the Thuringian tradition for my IMBB entry.
The two classics of Thuringian grilling are Bratwurst and Rostbraetl. Bratwurst, in its Thuringian version, is a delicious sausage, made from veal and pork meat, and a secret spice mix every butcher guards carefully. They're great to eat but they don't really make a good IMBB entry. Actually they would have made a great entry if I had managed to find a recipe for making them in any of my German cookbooks. Or if any of my Thuringian friends would have had a clue on how to make these delicious sausages, instead of looking at me as if I was insane ("Make Bratwurst??? Why don't you just buy some?????). Instead I opted for Rostbraetl.
Rostbraetl are slices of pork neck meat marinated in onion, beer and mustard before being grilled. They're served with onions, cooked very slowly in a pan till soft but not browned, mustard and normally either pan roasted potatoes (Bratkartoffeln) or potato salad. Finding THE recipe for Rostbraetl is impossible: ever family has one, which clearly is, according to them, the real one. So I just hope no Thuringian reads this post otherwise I might have to change identity and address ;-). The ones I made tasted quite right, juicy and aromatic from the marinade, except they missed the smoky flavour they get from real grilling. As soon as the weather gets better...
1 or 2 slices of pork neck, about 1 1/2 cm thick per person
onions, sliced to get 1 cm high rounds, cut as for onion rings, 1 every 2 Rostbraetl for the marinade plus extra as topping
mustard, possibly Born Senf from Erfurt
Köstritzer Schwarzbier, a local dark beer
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf and 2 allspice grains for every 2 meat slices.
Start by trimming excess fat from the meat. Salt and pepper each slice. Brush generously with mustard on both sides. Place the first slice in the container chosen for marinating and top with 2-3 onion slices. Now repeat for each slice trying to leave as little space as possible between the meat. Once the meat is finished pour just enough beer in the container to just cover the meat. Add bay leaves and allspice. Let marinated 24 hours in the fridge.
When you're ready to grill remove the meat from the marinade. Before starting to grill take the onions which have marinated with the meat and add about 1/2 the amount of freshly sliced ones (i.e. if you've used 2 onions for the marinade slice another one) and cook over very low heat on a stovetop, till nicely soft, without browning them. You can do this a few hours before and warm the onions quickly on the grill using a metal pan or some foil. Grill the meat till done taking care the grill is not too hot, otherwise you'll end up with very dry Rostbraetl. Serve topped with onions and with extra mustard on the side accompanied by bread, potato salad or pan roasted potatoes.
A few things that can be changed in the recipe I give above are the type and amount of beer used and the spices which can be left out.