You'd be surprised a how much a couple simple additions brighten up plain beans, but that's exactly the case with these speckbohnen, German green beans. They make a tasty side for Oktoberfest or any meal.
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I mentioned when I shared the braised red cabbage with apples recipe that German cooking isn't exactly known for it's vegetables. Potatoes, sure, but beyond that is more limited. Green beans, however, are one that are popular, though typically with a Germanic twist.
In Germany, you'll typically find green beans served as 'speckbohnen' with bacon or a cured ham known as speck. It's only a simple twist, but adds so much.
Speckbohnen bring back memories of traveling to Germany and Austria when I was a child. As I got to that age when a few bits from your parents meal wasn't enough, but a whole meal on your own was too much, something we loved to get was a house platter.
It was a great way to not really have to decide what you wanted to eat as you got to have a bit of everything! It normally included some pork chops, sausages, Wiener schnitzel and various other meats along with some sides like German potato pancakes and commonly these German green beans.
What does speckbohnen mean?
"Bohnen" is simply the German word for beans, that typically means green beans. "Speck" in the name is a kind of cured meat typical to Southern German, Austria and through to Northern Italy.
It's a little like prosciutto but with a slightly smokey flavor. It's lovely to nibble on, and also cook with such as in my speck, potato and cheese souffle. Like these beans, the souffle really shows off it's great flavor.
Having looked at recipes, a number of those in English added a bit of vinegar and sugar to the pan, plus sometimes mustard. In other words, seasoning similar to German potato salad. However any German recipes I looked at didn't do this, and it's not something I remember.
It may be a regional variation, or just American adaptation over time. Go with what you prefer, either way it will be delicious I'm sure. Here I've chosen to stick with the plainer version, more as I remember in Germany.
These beans are really easy to prepare as all you do is cook the green beans as normal and while they are cooking, soften a little onion in a skillet. Add the speck to crisp up, then mix in with the cooked beans.
German green beans, are an easy, tasty twist on plain old beans that pair well with both Germanic foods and much more. They'd be perfect at any Oktoberfest celebration, or any excuse you can find.
Try these German green beans with these Germanic mains:
- Beef rouladen (braised beef rolls)
- Sauerbraten (German pot roast)
- Wiener schnitzel
- Jaegerschnitzel with cranberry-raspberry sauce (pork with mushroom sauce)
- Plus get more German recipes in the archives.
Speckbohnen (German green beans)
- 6 oz green beans
- ½ tbsp butter
- ¼ onion
- 3/3 oz speck or bacon (or prosciutto)
- Cook the green beans as you would normally - I'd suggest either steam them for a few minutes, boil or cook in the microwave with a little water. Whichever way, it will only take a couple minutes and you want them tender but only just so they don't become mushy and keep their nice green color. Drain and set aside.
- While the beans are cooking, melt the butter in a small-medium skillet. Finely dice the onion and add it to the pan. Cook for a minute while you finely slice and dice the speck or bacon. Add the speck/bacon to the pan and cook for a couple minutes until it is starting to crisp. Add the cooked beans, cook a minute, stirring regularly, then serve.
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