What is Leberkäse?
This southern German speciality is a rich, compact meatloaf made from finely ground corned beef, pork, bacon and onions and baked till it forms a dark brown crust. Traditionally served warm or cold in finger-thick slices (with the crusty brown ends being the most prized chunks), Leberkäse translates literally as “liver cheese”.
In Bavaria, however, where Leberkäse arguably originated and has been produced for over 200 years, it contains neither liver nor cheese. This becomes less confusing when you learn that the word comes not from “Leber” but “Laib”, or loaf, referring to its shape and form, and “Käse” because of its dense, cheese-like consistency (source). This liver-free Bavarian meatloaf is known either as Bayrisches Leberkäse (Bavarian Leberkäse) or Fleischkäse (“meat cheese”), and throughout the rest of Germany, where it does contain very strictly controlled amounts of liver, it’s known as Leberkäse.
Variations on the Leberkäse theme include Pferdleberkäse, made from horsemeat, Käseleberkäse, which contains small cubes of cheese, and Pizzaleberkäse, which involves cheese, chopped red peppers and pickles and small chunks of salami.
How to eat Leberkäse
There are plenty of ways to serve a slice of Leberkäse, but it’s most popular:
✭ in a crusty white bread roll with a dollop of sweet mustard
✭ warmed through in a pan, topped with a fried egg and served with potato salad or a soft pretzel
✭ as a falsches Cordon Bleu (“fake Cordon Bleu”), for which you sandwich slices of ham and cheese between two slabs of Leberkäse, dip it in egg and breadcrumbs and fry it in oil. Probably best to have an ambulance on standby for that one.
Have you tried Leberkäse? Pizzaleberkäse? Fancy a falsches Cordon Bleu?