Oktoberfest Sausage Stew

Oktoberfest Sausage StewOcto-beer-Fest
Oktoberfest is wrapping up over in Munich, but for those of us here on the other side of the pond the party is just beginning. Given the number of 19th-century German immigrants who came to our country, you would think that we would have a better idea as to the proper time to partake in Oktoberfest but Americans, it seems, have decided that October is the time.

For the next month, you will easily be able to find any number of Oktoberfest celebrations and Beer Gardens that will quench any thirst for a good quality ale—as well as tasty fare to go along with it. For the beer aficionados out there, October can be a little like Christmas. For others who drink a beer once every two years or so, like myself, Oktoberfest isn’t that big of a deal. If we’re talking about cooking with beer, that’s a different story. If that’s the case, I’m all in…

Here’s the thing. I don’t like the way beer tastes when you drink it by the pint or from a bottle BUT I do like the way it smells. (I know. It’s weird.) This is why I like to use beer when I cook. It adds the flavor of the beer without making the recipe taste like beer. The best example of this is a recipe for Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onion that is a fall staple in my family. Of course, in my opinion, you can’t make decent fish and chips without using beer in your batter. Same goes for chili and let’s not forget that the only proper way to eat a Bratwurst is to boil it in beer first.

So for my Oktoberfest, I am going to search out all of the beer recipes I can find to test them out starting with this recipe for Oktoberfest Sausage Stew…it sounds like the perfect meal for a cool-weather dinner.

Oktoberfest Sausage Stew 
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine
Yields 6 Servings

This recipe is based on a traditional Hungarian sausage, tomato and bell pepper stew called lecsó (LEH-tcho). The beer adds a rich, dark flavor.

8 ounces skinless slab bacon sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 large Vidalia onion
3 large bell peppers, yellow, red, and/or orange
3 large garlic cloves
12 ounces Kielbasa sausage or chorizo
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 3/4 pounds plum tomatoes
1 cup red ale or lager
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Warm sourdough bread, for serving

Prep the ingredients
Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch strips. Thinly slice the onion, bell peppers, garlic cloves, and sausage. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Make the stew
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, cook the bacon strips over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (about 8 minutes).

Add the onion and cook, stirring, until very lightly browned (about 5 minutes). Stir in the bell peppers and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned (about 5 more minutes). Stir in the sausage slices, crushed red pepper, and paprika and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down (about 5 minutes). Add the beer and bay leaf and bring to a boil.

Cover partially and turn down the heat to low. Cook the stew until the vegetables are very tender and the sauce is slightly reduced (about 15 minutes). Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with warm sourdough bread for sopping up the broth.

Do ahead
The stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat on low before serving.

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