The Goddess has been harking back to her roots recently. Perhaps it was “The Purge”, as she affectionately refers to the process of ridding herself of years of accumulated
junk treasures. That, and the fact that she adores sauerkraut. She eventually embraced “The Purge”. What really gave her a new lease on life was the help of her Friends from the Great Northern Climes. (You know who you are and I thank you and love you for your generosity with your time, effort and humour!) When one packs their life into boxes, at times encountering pictures and mementos bring back lovely memories. I have my mothers roaster. I remember the wonderful meals she prepared in that roaster, and this sauerkraut was one such food memory. And that brings us back to food, because as you know, that’s where The Goddess truly lives and breathes.
This is pretty much the way I grew up eating sauerkraut. I love, love, love sauerkraut. One of the those wonderful memories I just mentioned, is of making sauerkraut with my mother. It was an autumnal ritual and it was ours. Real quality time. I loved the shredding, the salting, and tamping down the cabbage until the juices surged to the surface. And of course, the fermentation process, with its accompanying aroma, which admittedly is more of an odor and creates less of a great memory! Then, we canned it and enjoyed it all winter long. She and I even made some together when The Latin Lover and I lived in Miami over thirty years ago. We put the crock on the balcony of our condo; it fermented beautifully out there and I enjoyed it long after my parents had returned to South Dakota. At any rate, we ate a lot of sauerkraut and it was loved by all, especially by my father. It’s high in vitamin C, rather non-fussy to prepare, stores well and is exceptionally low in calories, with something like 40 calories per cup…it’s a win-win.
The Latin Lover isn’t fond of sauerkraut. Okay, he hates it and refers to it as “rotten cabbage”. Clearly he doesn’t understand the subtle nuances of fermentation! He and I have an arrangement. He over-looks my junk and crazy foibles, and I don’t serve him sauerkraut or asparagus (I think I’ve mention that he’s not fond of that, either!). Besides…more for me.
Anyway, my mother had German and Czech roots and this version, I suspect, was a blending of those two cuisines—bacon, bacon fat, onions, garlic, apple cider, caraway seeds and of course, sauerkraut. I used this as a base for baking Rhineland Stuffed Chicken Breasts. They were really delicious with this. I don’t usually use chicken with sauerkraut, but it turns out, chicken is really good with sauerkraut. Besides, see that bit of melted cheese oozing out there? It was a nice little flavor bit with the sauerkraut.
I always give sauerkraut a quick sauté in bacon fat, after I fry the bacon. I then just add everything to the pan, pour the apple cider in and simmer. As you can see, I added the cider to the sauce, then I added the ingredients for the sauerkraut. I usually don’t add the bacon back into the mixture until I serve it, but sometimes I want chewy, not crispy…options!
This is a flexible recipe. You can also use this as a filling…think German calzone!!! When my mother made bread, she would save some of the dough to fill with this mixture. They were her version of “Pigs-in-Blankets”…but that’s another post, too.
- 4-5 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 8-10 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2-3 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 1-2 teaspoons dill seeds (optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
- 1 quart (or 1 pound bag) sauerkraut (see NOTE)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup apple cider
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and fry until crisp. Remove from the pan; set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the mushrooms and onions; cook, stirring now and then, until they pick up some color. They do not need to be cooked through or tender. Add the caraway seeds, garlic, porcini powder, wine and apple cider. Deglaze, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan and simmer to reduce the liquid by half. Add the sauerkraut. Stir everything together; stir in the bacon. Cover, lower the heat and simmer. You can also bake this in the oven, if that works better for you. Cook for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how soft you want the mixture to be. You just want the flavors to meld. Serve as is as a side, or use as a base for Rhineland Stuffed Chicken Breasts or pork chops, pork tenderloins, brats or kielbasa.
NOTE: Sometimes I use the fresh kraut in the bags, but I prefer to use sauerkraut canned in glass. I never use the kraut in aluminum cans. Do not add salt until the end of cooking. Taste, then go from there. I love caraway, so I used the large amount and didn’t use the dill seed; it’s a personal choice. I don’t rinse sauerkraut, but you can. You might want to taste it, then decide. Also, you may thicken it with a cornstarch slurry, if it seems too liquid-y.
Czech-German Sauerkraut Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2017. All rights reserved.
I had about 1 cup of sauerkraut hanging around in the fridge. It needed to leave, so I threw that in too. That’s the thing about this recipe, these are the amounts I used, but you could use more or less. My mother used to grate a peeled potato into the mixture, as a thickening agent. You won’t even know it’s there. I really like to add a grated pear or an apple. When I do that, I omit the cider. My mother used what she had, and I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, that’s what I tend to do, too.
If you have a good source for kielbasa, use that. Add it after you fry the bacon; add the slices, dices or chunks and brown them, then continue with the recipe. This is great as is, but is good with some mustard stirred in at the very last minute, just before serving. Or serve it on the side.