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Meat Your Maker

Fall means a return to savory meats and dark beer, a change heralded by the greatest of seasonal celebrations, Oktoberfest. We’ve just added meat grinders and sausage stuffers to hayneedle.com, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to learn more from a local legend.

We headed to Gerda’s German Restaurant and Bakery here in Omaha, NE, to meet and meat with owner and operator Gerda Bailey. Gerda opened this authentic eatery 37 years ago, and still works 60 hours a week making the most authentic schnitzel and sauerbraten in town. Meat grinder and kitchen island in tow, we were determined to learn all we could, and equally determined to drink a Dunkel afterwards.

What we got was heartwarming hospitality and a sausage-load of helpful advice for grinding meat at home. We brought chuck steak, veggies, tomatoes, and nuts … then took pictures as the maestro went to work.

Some pictures and pointers -
  • Always start with cold meat! “The colder, the better,” according to our host. Grinding meat fresh out of the fridge makes for easier cutting and better consistency.
  • No matter what you’re grinding, cut it into manageable slices or chunks before pushing it down the tube. It’ll be easier for you and won’t create any undue squishing of your precious meal.
  • Don’t be afraid to put other foods into your grinder! Use it like a food processor … add onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, and more to your meat as you grind and save yourself a bunch of steps.
  • Get creative. Gerda uses a meat grinder to make tomato soup. Just quarter a tomato – leave the skin and everything; that’s the best part – and push it through with your favorite herbs and spices. Strain, and … voila!
  • Think beer pairings. Snobby sommeliers may think the grape-based stuff is best, but our friends at Gerda’s know what they’re doing. The legendary Oktoberfest here features dishes of knackwurst, bratwurst, and spaetzle, all of which marry nicely with a Dunkelweisen, Optimator, and more.

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