The Texas Hill-Country Schnitzel With the Most Divine Red Wine Sauce

June 15, 2018

Even if you’re sure you’ve never been to Fredericksburg, Texas, in your life, it is very possible you already have. Let me explain: Anyone who has seen a John Wayne movie has already walked down the town’s Main Street.

Pick-up trucks kick up dust as they turn off paved roads. People wear cowboy boots and the measured clop of their heels recall the moments leading up to a showdown. You might even expect a Rio Bravo extra, the one who had a little too much to drink at the bar last night, to stumble out from the narrow two-story Historic Gillespie County Jail.

But whether or not you’re looking for a taste of the Wild West, Fredericksburg offers something for everyone: Interior design enthusiasts will enjoy its furniture shops, oenophiles its vineyards, and history buffs the National Museum of the Pacific War. (Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz is one of the town’s native sons.) Nearby Enchanted Rock promises moderate hikes with spectacular views, while quaint bed and breakfasts offer incentive to take advantage of them.

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But one thing visitors can’t help but notice about this charming Texas town is the number of German restaurants that dot Main Street, from Der Linderbaum and Auslander biergarten at the east end to the Old German Bakery and Restaurant at the west end. Signs saying willkommen hang in their windows and menus feature iconic Bavarian specialties like schnitzel, sauerkraut soup, and sausage.

Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by German émigrés seeking refuge from political and social unrest at home, and today’s food scene helps to preserve the memory of those early pioneers. Go during the holiday season and the connection to the old country becomes all the more apparent: Great garlands reading “Merry Christmas” line each end of Main Street and wreaths adorn each lamp post. Every tree in Marktplatz, the town square, is strung with lights and a giant nativity pyramid spins round and round.

Das Peach Haus, located just outside of town, offers cooking classes in a historic warehouse once owned and operated by Lone Star Beer. You can learn the ins and outs of sauerkraut soup, braised cabbage, jägerschnitzel, and German potato salad during the Hill Country German Feast sessions on Saturdays.

While many cultures can lay claim to schnitzel, or their variation of it, jägerschnitzel is a distinctly German preparation, and one found in many Fredericksburg restaurants. Take your classic pork schnitzel, serve it up with a rich red wine and mushroom sauce—the flavor of which builds from a base of onions cooked down in bacon fat—and you’ve got jägerschnitzel.

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