Sauerkraut and pork...ah, what fond childhood memories that phrase evokes.
I know what you're thinking. "Sauerkraut ? Pork ?? Happy children ????" No, I have not lost my mind. (Well, I think maybe I have, but it has nothing to do with my food memory !)
I've expounded upon my German heritage quite often here at CO...sauerbraten, potato dumplings and red cabbage was one of the first dinners I wrote up for this blog, and my Oma's Potato Salad has been written up as well. But the sauerkraut and pork...now that's old school, deeply ingrained memory stuff for me, something my German grandmother and great-grandmother made often. Oddly enough, it is a cherished childhood memory for Mark too (shared heritage...one of the many reasons we make such a great pair in the kitchen. ) This one is Mark's recipe, and Mark's story.
Mark's grandfather was Austrian (well, as far as we know). The family stories about him are legendary and probably not all true, but fun to talk about anyway - they range from everything from him being a horse thief to a Ruthenian terrorist to some sort of royalty. Whatever he was, he came to this country prior to WW1, married a Canadian woman, and raised a family in Boston. He worked various jobs, including being a Pinkerton...and cooking at a resort on Long Island. The story behind the cooking goes that he used to spend a lot of time in the kitchens of the estate he grew up on, and learned some pretty impressive cooking skills along the way. Sadly, I never got to meet Grampy (he passed away in 1978 in his late 80's), but I am lucky enough to be the beneficiary of that delicious heritage. And one of the best examples is this sauerkraut and pork, passed down from Grampy and Mark's Uncle Jim. I know I've said this about a lot of things, but this is truly one of my favorite, favorite things that Mark makes.
A general note on the sauerkraut - we recommend the use of bagged. The bagged varieties seem to have a better flavor than the jarred, possibly because they are kept cold in the fridge instead of on the shelf at room temperature (which would mean that they are probably pasteurized). If you can't find bags (usually kept near the hot dogs) use jarred. Canned sauerkraut just tastes like the can, and should be avoided if at all possible.
Potato pancakes and pumpernickel go perfectly with this - my bread machine version of pumpernickel follows. If you have the time and inclination, by all means make the pancakes from scratch...but we find the boxed mix (Carmel Kosher or Manischewitz) work perfectly fine, particularly if we have other things going on while the sauerkraut simmers. Potato dumplings (see link above) or even pierogies would be great with this as well.
We usually double this recipe, but I am giving directions for a normal potful here. The onion, apple and pork measurements are approximate - it all depends on the size of the apples and onions, and the meatiness of the pork. Exact measurements are really not important on this one !
|onions and sauerkraut|
|first layer ready to go ! |
Sauerkraut and Pork
4 lbs sauerkraut, drained but NOT rinsed
2 -3 onions, sliced
2 - 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 - 3 pounds country style pork ribs (bone-in pork chops work fine too)
2 tablespoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sweet pickle juice (drained from a jar of sweet pickles)
Place half of the sauerkraut in a large stockpot. Scatter half of the onions on top, then half of the apples. Lay half of the pork chops on top, and sprinkle with half of the mustard, caraway, and pepper. Repeat with remaining sauerkraut, onions, apples, pork and spices.
Combine water and vinegars and pour over contents of pot. Cover tightly and bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Leave undisturbed for two hours.
After the two hours is up, remove lid and stir well (the meat will probably start coming off the bones at this point). Cover again, and simmer for another hour or two (you can probably get away with one, but Grampy always said the longer the better). Add the pickle juice (stirring well) for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Pumpernickel Bread (bread machine)
True fact : "Pumpernickel" means "Devil's Fart" in German. I love that :) . Traditional pumpernickel is baked from 16 - 24 hours to get that deep, dark color - or darkly toasted crumbs from the previous batch can be added. This one's a bit of a cheat, relying on a combination of dark, tasty ingredients...and a bread machine. Don't let that scare you off - it's still absolutely delicious !
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup Guinness (if you don't have one handy and open, just use regular beer or add more water. Guinness helps make it super dark though ! You could probably use cola as well).
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (the darker the better)
1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups flour (bread or all-purpose)
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
Add ingredients to bread machine in order specified by manufacturer, and bake according to directions for "normal" or "basic" loaf.