Oktoberfest Feast: Austrian-Born Chef Shares Flavor Secrets

Chefs, Cooking, Restaurants By Oct 14, 2014

Far from a beer-hall atmosphere, the chic Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach probably isn’t what comes to mind when considering Oktoberfest reveling.

YET, their menu heralds the seasonal celebration through October 20, offering a number of German-themed specials that are flavor boosted with Executive Chef Paul Gstrein’s contemporary spins.

Austrian-born and California inspired, Gstrein showed me how to prepare sausages with sauerkraut and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes. I’ve made the dish many times, but his tastes a thousand times better than mine. I wanted to see his secrets. The short video shows the secrets, step by step.


First of all, his sauerkraut is nuanced in delectable ways. The fresh kraut is poured from the jar, rinsed and drained. Diced bacon cooked with thinly-sliced onion amp the concoction on the stove; chicken broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds and juniper berries come to the party, too.

Sweet-sour elements are also added – a pinch of sugar and a drizzle of sherry vinegar. He enhances the mix by adding slurry during the final minutes of cooking, a mixture of cornstarch and water that builds rich silkiness.


The sausages that he uses are far better than any I’ve tasted. Plump Kaese Krainer sausages are made of lightly smoked lean pork generously dotted with small chunks of Emmentaler Swiss cheese. He carefully heats the fully-cooked links; nestled in a saucepan they bathe covered with water kept just under a simmer.


The sautéed spuds are crisp and browned on the outside, lending a welcome texture contrast to the other components. Honeyed whole-grain mustard as well as pretzel bread, served on the side, put it over the top.


The Search: I wasn’t able to track down those Kaese Krainer sausages stuffed with smoked lean pork and chunks of cheese in Orange County. I found them online at www.lobels.com (1 pound – about 4 sausages – is $15.98). Chef Gstrein said that Weisswurst could be substituted; it’s a traditional Bavarian sausage made with minced veal and pork (spiked with parsley, lemon, onion and spices). I found them at the deli in Old World Village in Huntington Beach. I also bought some sweet Bavarian mustard there.

Sausage – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Chef Gstrein also showed me how to showcase sausages in morning and midday dishes. For morning, Kaese Krainers are cooked in milk and served with an AM beer to wash them down (see photo below). For lunch, Kaese Krainers rest in partially-split pretzel buns and are topped with zigzags of honey-whole-grain mustard.


Sweet-Spicy Mustard and Pretzel Bread: Gstrein makes his own version of Bavarian mustard. He mixes 1 part Dijon-style mustard with 1 part whole-grain mustard and 1 part honey. He advises that pretzel bread is sold at Trader Joe’s.

Kaese Krainer Sausage with Sauerkraut and Roasted Potatoes
1 teaspoon canola oil or vegetable oil
4 ounces smoked bacon, diced
1 small brown onion, thinly sliced
12 ounces fresh Sauerkraut, rinsed, drained
1 cup chicken broth
5 juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Slurry: 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
Salt, white pepper, sugar, to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
4 Kaese Krainer sausages
Roasted potatoes, recipe follows
For serving: pretzel bread
For serving: whole-grained honey mustard
Garnish: parsley sprigs
1. Set a saucepan large enough to hold the sauerkraut on medium heat. Add oil and when hot, add bacon. Cook until bacon renders most of the fat and is just starting to turn brown, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion and cook until onion softens. Add sauerkraut, broth, juniper berries, bay leaf and caraway seeds. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir the slurry; add to sauerkraut little by little, stirring often, to thicken it. Season with salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar.
2. Heat sausages in a water bath (just below a simmer) at about 165 degrees for about 10 minutes until heated through.
3. To serve: Remove bay leaf from sauerkraut. Arrange sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes on warmed serving platters and garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve mustard alongside with some pretzel bread.
Source: Paul Gstrein, executive chef Bayside, Newport Beach

Roasted Potatoes
6 medium-sized unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes, cooked, quartered
3 tablespoons clarified butter (or a combination of canola oil and butter)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, some sprigs for garnish
Salt, white pepper to taste
1. In a nonstick sauté pan on medium heat, toast quartered potatoes in clarified butter (or butter and oil) until golden brown. Add herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Source: Paul Gstrein, executive chef Bayside, Newport Beach



…Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s …


This Provencal-style vegetable concoction is delicious and quick to prepare.

The dish showcases a brand new (delectable and time-saving) product – steamed, ready-to-eat artichoke hearts (available at Bristol Farms, Gelsons and Mothers Markets).


Provencal-Style Artichoke Melange
Yield: 5 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence or dried Italian spice mixture
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 ounces steamed artichoke hearts, quartered or halved
1 (9-ounce) package thawed shelled, cooked edamame
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 pitted olives, drained, coarsely chopped
For serving: 4 cups cooked brown rice, long grain preferred
1. Heat oil in large, deep skillet on medium heat. Add onion and fennel; cook, stirring occasionally until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and herbs; cook 30 seconds.  Add wine and increase heat to high; cook until most of wine evaporates (about 2 tablespoons of liquid should remain).
2. Add artichokes, edamame, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with feta cheese and olives. Serve over cooked brown rice.



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