Discovering My Heritage Through Cooking: Part 5


 The National Flag of Germany

The National Flag of Germany


When I think of Germany, I immediately think of the food- Schnitzel, sauerkraut, strudel, sausages, pretzels- and lots of beer. German food is one of my absolute favorites. As a kid, I remember one of my favorite meals being my mom’s pork schnitzel. As an adult, I found out that it was usually a frozen store bought one that my mom would always bump up a notch by adding some fresh lemons and herbs. Don’t judge, but I always went back for seconds, and sometimes even thirds.

My only German experiences really have been at Disney’s World Showcase in Epcot. I know that’s the stereotypical version of what everyone believes Germany to be at all times, but I doubt people are wearing lederhosen on the streets every day. With this being my only experience, I can’t say anything other than the food has stolen my heart.

Every time we would go to Disney as a family, we would always go to the Biergarten for dinner one of the nights. It was a buffet style so we were able to try all different German foods. There were a trio of foods that definitely stood out to me- Schnitzel, Spiced Red Cabbage, and Spaetzle- so I decided to recreate them.

First, the schnitzel. Schnitzel is basically any piece of meat, pounded into a thin cutlet, breaded, and fried. This may sound pretty average, but it’s far from it. I always add lemon and herbs which give it a very bright and fresh flavor. This is very easy to make and even the most inexperienced person could likely make it without much of problem.

Since schnitzel is usually fried, I decided to make it a bit healthier by first spraying my skillet with oil and cooking it briefly. Then I continued to bake it in the oven.  By doing this, you cut out a LOT of oil- which is what would typically make this dish not the healthiest choice out there.

Next was Spaetzle, which is a German noodle that doesn’t look like your average pasta. The noodles are a little denser and thicker than pasta. They’re small and squiggly or crimped looking. Each one is like a snowflake and has its own unique shape, and I actually really struggled to make this on my own.

To make the noodles, you have to take your pasta dough and press it through a strainer into a pot of boiling water. This was a huge mess and I almost snapped my strainer in half. At one point I needed to get a second set of hands involved to help me scoop the cooked noodles while I pressed more dough through the colander. If I make this meal again, I might skip the spaetzle or buy it pre-made from the store, but it never hurts to try making it on your own first!

Last, the spiced red cabbage really brought all of the components together on this plate. It has a beautiful, vibrant color and is rich in vitamins and minerals. I never thought I would want a second helping of cabbage, but this stuff is addicting, and the clove flavor is irresistible. This was very simple to make as well.

 Spiced red cabbage

Spiced red cabbage


Here’s how you can recreate this German dish for yourself:

Chicken Schnitzel Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breast
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 egg
2/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flour
a splash of milk
1 lemon
salt & pepper

Spiced Red Cabbage Ingredients:

1 onion, cut into thin slices
4 cups of red cabbage, sliced thin
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey

Spaetzle Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup of cashew milk (or milk of choice)
1 tbsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Lite 30% Vegetable Oil Spread (or butter of choice)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp parsley (dried or fresh)
1 lemon


Step 1: Prep the cabbage, garlic, and lemons

1) Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core, then cut each quarter into thin strips.
2) Mince the garlic, keeping two cloves separate for the spaetzle.
3) Zest one lemon, then cut both into quarters.

Step 2: Make the dough

1) Mix the flours, salt, and eggs together in a bowl.
2) Add the milk (you can add more if it’s too dry). If the dough gets too wet, just add another sprinkle of flour.
3) Set aside until you’re done prepping the chicken.

Step 3: Begin to boil a pot of salted water for the spaetzle

Step 4: Make the chicken

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Mix the flour, parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
3) Set up another bowl with the egg (beaten), a splash of milk, and the juice of half of a lemon.
4) Put the breadcrumbs, minced garlic, and lemon zest into another container.
5) Pound the chicken into thin cutlets. You can use a meat tenderizing mallet or use the side of your knife and your hand- this can be a little dangerous though so be really careful!
6) Once they are pounded thin, dip each in the flour, then the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs.
7) Spray a skillet with oil and cook each piece of chicken for a few minutes on each side. You can fully cook the chicken this way if you prefer.
8) After each piece of chicken cooks, line a sheet with foil and spray with oil.
9) Put the chicken on the sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes.*

*This depends on how long you cooked each piece of chicken on the stove top. If you fully cooked them, you can skip this step. I chose to bake them so they would still be hot when I finished the other components of the meal.

Step 5: Make the cabbage

1) Spray a skillet with oil, then put in the onions and cook until soft.
2) Add the cabbage, water, cider vinegar, honey, pepper, salt, and cloves (this will just cook in the background).
3) Keep mixing on occasion. The cabbage should be soft and wilted when it’s done. You can add more water if it cooks down and hasn’t softened enough.

Step 6: Make the spaetzle

1) Spray a colander with oil (I used a plastic one since metal heats up quickly).
2) Push the dough through the colander letting it will fall into the pot of boiling water. The dough will look almost like little worms (I know-not appetizing sounding, but that’s what it reminds me of!).
3) When the pasta is done cooking, it floats to the top of the pot. Scoop the noodles out with a slotted spoon and put them aside in a bowl.
4) Once they’re all done cooking, mix in the butter, parsley, and garlic, then briefly toss together in a skillet.

Step 7: Plate

Take out your chicken and squeeze some lemon on top, to taste. Squeeze some fresh lemon on the spaetzle as well. Add more parsley, also to taste. Enjoy!


I will definitely be making the chicken schnitzel again and the spiced red cabbage. Both had so much flavor and brought back so many memories while eating it. The spaetzle was also delicious, but personally, I honestly don’t know if I can stand to go through that process again.  I’m glad that I made it once to get the experience, but I don’t think it’s something I would try to do again. To me, it was more effort than it was worth. Luckily the other two components of this dish were incredibly easy so it balanced out. If you’re an inexperienced cook, you can definitely make these with ease!

What’s your favorite German dish?
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