This week’s challenge was Berliner Frikassee (Berliner Fricassee). Normally, when I think of Berlin cuisine, I think, “I’m not really that hungry.” The fricassee I encountered in Berlin was usually rubbery chicken and overcooked white asparagus in a bland cream sauce. This recipe was different though, and quite expensive to make.
Finely chopped vegetables
First, I went to the butcher to order the meat, 300 g sweetbread and 1 kg of veal shoulder (she also got the Spargel for me). My butcher speaks deeply accented Bayerisch, so it’s always a struggle to understand. She informed me that she probably couldn’t get the sweetbread in so small a quantity, but that it froze well, so would 500 g be okay. I said I could handle that. Over the two weeks between ordering and picking up, she called twice (Bayerisch over the phone is pure torture) to tell me there were some kind of changes to my order. The first had to do the the veal shoulder. She asked what I was making and said she could substitute something else. I didn’t really understand what the something else was, but I figured it was fine (and it was).
Chopping the veal into bite-size pieces
Then she called to say that the sweetbread had arrived and it was a 1.7 kg piece. It was going to cost over 40 Euro. I hung up and decided Rainer could pick up the meat on Saturday and deal with this. After the enormous veal knuckle, humongous lamb leg and now this, I was starting to get the impression that the butcher thinks we have a lot of money and she was maybe taking advantage of me. Sometimes I feel this way in my encounters with shopkeepers in Germany, especially ones where there is not necessarily set pricing involved. I wonder if this is how they are with all customers, do they just try to get away with as much as they can? Or is it because I’m a foreigner and they think I won’t know better?
Well, Rainer went and picked up the stuff and said that we were only taking 500 g of the sweetbread. He said they complained that veal is hard to get and expensive, which Rainer thinks may be true, but they didn’t really put up a fight and threw in a free sausage. Still, we’re going to try and find a butcher in Regensburg and see how the pricing compares, because we won’t be able to afford to keep doing these challenges at the prices we’re being charged here – or we’ll have to half or quarter the more expensive recipes. I hadn’t really taken the cost into account when I started this, but I also think we’ve had a lot of the more expensive recipes so far and maybe we’ll stick to the less expensive ones through summer.
Rainer cleaning the sweetbread
I browned the veal and vegetables then stuck the pot in the oven. The house smelled delicious.
I didn’t really know what I was doing with the sweetbread. I just kind of pulled it apart and if there was skin-like pieces, I tried to pull them off. I asked Rainer if I was doing it right, he had no idea because he’d never done it, but volunteered to finish. I was happy to let him.
Because we were supposed to soak the sweetbread to get rid of the blood, I had expected something more, uh, organ-y, but there was not really any blood or anything and it wasn’t gross at all to handle. It felt a little like chicken livers, but was the color of raw chicken breast.
The dried morels only came in 5g packs that cost 2 Euro, and we needed 50g, so we decided to take the “Chinese morels” that were sitting next to them on the shelf and cost 2 Euro for a 50g pack. They were actually wood ear mushrooms, but I figured, what the hey, why not?
We made the Risi-Bisi and puff pastry fleurons too. There weren’t any premade fleurons, so I bought sheets and used a cookie cutter to make them. For the Risi-Bisi, the type or amount of cheese to add to the rice wasn’t specified, so I just bought a pack of light, shredded cheese. Janda suggested that cream cheese might be better, and luckily I had some in the fridge, so we used that instead. (Janda was the only one willing to brave the sweetbreads, all our other friends politely declined our invitation to come over this week.)
I thought the dish was delicious (and the house smelled amazing). Rainer says it’s one of his favorites so far. I would not use the wood ears though, they were rubbery and the texture detracted from the dish. I wonder how the morels would have been. I’ll find out in next week’s recipe, I guess! I also don’t think the sweetbread added anything to the dish (yes, I ate it). If you’ve got some extra cash floating around and want to invite over and impress your gland eating friends, they’re a great addition, but I think in any other situation, just save your cash and leave them out.
Another idea Janda and I both had, was instead of the mushrooms, just throw some cherry tomatoes in at the very end. I found the dish a little lacking in color and think tomatoes would go well and add some brightness. As for kid-friendliness of the recipe, it depends on the kid. Oliver ate the meat and Spargel right up (he didn’t like the mushrooms, though he usually does, but I can understand that). I imagine that squeamish kids might not like the idea of eating sweetbread though.
Oliver ate sweetbread too!
Other participants (will be updated throughout the day):
- Stephanie at A Greenville Life
- For Monday, June 1: Leipziger Allerlei (Leipziger Potpourri) – described as “vegetables for gourmets.” Fresh veggies are a must for this dish.
Coming up, I’m gonna try to go with some lower cost dishes, as we’ve done quite a few expensive ones so far. Berries will be in season soon too, so I’m looking forward to some summery desserts.
If you haven’t done a challenge, feel free to join in anytime you want. You can do it as a one-time thing, or join up every week.