As a native German from Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, I love to tell my friends about leberkaese. I work as a chef in Austin, Texas and my guests call me Chef Keem. Unfortunately, no butcher in the entire great State of Texas seems to be willing to make and sell this fantastic Bavarian sausage loaf. Most folks think about a certain canned meat product when I describe my favorite breakfast food from the Old Country. But really – there is no comparison!
The word leberkaese is a combination of leber (German for liver) and kaese (German for cheese), but you will find neither one of these foods on the list of ingredients. There are different interpretations of the origin of the name. Most likely it comes from old German words describing the shape of the product.
Although the use of seasonings and spices may vary depending on regions and individual preferences, a standard recipe contains a basic set of high-quality ingredients: lean beef and pork, bacon with the rind, fresh onion, salt, pepper, marjoram, garlic, and lemon zest. All this is ground finely in a buffalo chopper with the appropriate blade, until it becomes a smooth paste of well-blended components. After this meat paste is filled into loaf pans, it is baked to a juicy pink interior with a medium brown crust on top.
A slice of freshly baked leberkaese is wonderful with fresh bread, usually a sourdough roll that has been been split in halves. A squirt or two of some sweet Bavarian mustard complete this traditional Munich breakfast dish. Another great preparation is to brown a slice on the griddle or in a frying pan, and serve it with fried potatoes and eggs sunny-side-up.
Whenever I ordered a loaf of authentic leberkaese from a Bavarian butcher in Wisconsin, my guests were impressed with the quality and good taste of this relatively unknown dish. I hope that more American foodies will discover this juicy Bavarian specialty during their next visit to a German restaurant.
by Achim Thiemermann