Potatoes literally form the heart of May Gin of the Month, Windspiel, as the spirit is produced from them.
But since they were introduced to the country by Frederick the Great, also known as 'The Potato King', in the 18th century, potatoes, or Kartoffeln, have also been at heart of German cuisine. There is a huge variety of traditional German recipes for potatoes – from simply boiled, to pan roasted, to potato dumplings and noodles.
The Windspiel team love to pair their gin with traditional German recipes from Windspiel’s volcanic Eifel home, where the humble spud’s the star. Here are two of the best for you to try at home – gin accompaniment optional, but recommended!
Döppekuchen & Apple Sauce
A dish native to the Eifel region, home of Windspiel Gin, is Döppekuchen, a kind of potato flan made with grated potatoes, onions and bacon, which is baked in a cast-iron pot (a döppe) like a cake (kuchen) and served in slices.
Originally considered a poor man’s food, it was served for the traditional November St Martin’s Day feast in place of the customary (but much more expensive) roast goose.
These days, it’s considered something of a regional speciality and is often served by restaurants around the Rhineland region of western Germany, often along with apple sauce.
For the Apple Sauce
400g Bramley apples
Juice of ½ lemon
1½ tbsp caster sugar
A little butter and salt, to serve
For the Döppekuchen
1.5 kg floury potatoes, peeled and grated
2 onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 pinch grated nutmeg
A knob of butter
Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 3.
Grease a baking dish (approx 25cm diameter) with a little of the butter and cover the bottom with bacon slices. Put the grated potatoes in a colander and press out and drain the excess liquid into a bowl. Leave it to drain for about 10 mins.
Mix the potatoes, eggs, onion and nutmeg and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Put the potato mixture into the baking dish and bake for about 1hr 45mins. If the surface starts to go too dark, cover loosely with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
While the potato cake is cooking, make the apple sauce: Peel and dice the apples. Put in a small pan with the juice of ½ lemon, 2 tbsp water and 1½ tbsp caster sugar. Heat gently until the apples are really soft, then squash with a spoon. Add a little butter and salt to serve.
Take the cake out of the oven, turn it out of the dish and serve in slices with the apple sauce.
Eifel Potato Soup
This traditional soup from the Eifel region is comfort food at its best.
1.5kg potatoes, peeled and cubed
Oil for frying
1 teaspoon of dried Marjoram
4 Frankfurter sausages (or similar)
100g streaky bacon, cut into squares
1 leek, washed and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cued
1 stick celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 litre beef stock
Lightly fry the bacon in a little oil and add all ingredients. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes and reduces the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft enough to crush.
Blend the soup in a food processor – all of it if you prefer a smooth texture, or just one third of it if you like a chunkier soup – and return to the pan, on a low heat. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and the marjoram. Add the sausages and let them rest in the warm soup for 10 minutes.
Serve and enjoy – making sure each person gets a sausage!