Friday, February 05, 2010

Cheap Eats - Sauerkraut

This cold and rainy(lots and lots) weather made me hungry for something hearty and warm last night so I made sauerkraut, boiled potatoes and knockwurst. A lot of people think sauerkraut is only for Reubens or hot dogs but I love it as a vegetable side when I feel that urge for German. I actually think my recipe for sauerkraut is more from Alsace than Germany proper but whatever, it's a wonderful way to prepare kraut and even if you are not a big fan of sauerkraut you might like it prepared this way.

There are only two of us so I use the small 1 pound bag of Boar's Head Sauerkraut but this recipe doubles with no problem.

Alsatian Style Sauerkraut

1 half of a small onion cut in half and sliced as thin as possible which should give you about a half cup
1 small apple peeled, cored and shredded on the large shred of a box grater
1 pound bag of fresh sauerkraut rinsed under cold water and drained, like I said above I like the Boar's Head but there are other good ones
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
2 TBSP light brown sugar
2 TBSP unsalted butter
6- 8 dried juniper berries (optional)
1  bay leaf

In a large saucepan over medium heat (with lid) wilt the onion in the butter until just tender. Add everything else and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat but maintain the simmer and cover and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour stirring every 15 minutes or so. After about 45 minutes I usually bury 4 Knockwurst or Bratwurst (again Boar's Head unless you have a good German butcher handy)  in the kraut and heat these through, about 15 minutes. I usually serve with simple boiled potatoes. I like the hint of woodsy whatever that the juniper berries bring and they are traditional but if you don't have them don't worry it will still be good. If you want to use them you can usually find them in the spice section of the grocery but I have never found another recipe that calls for them. I do think you use them in making gin though.

Like I said I fix this for the two of us and we usually have a little sauerkraut leftover but if you use a 2 pound bag of sauerkraut it will serve four with no problem. There are virtually no calories in kraut by itself and the butter, wine and brown sugar don't add much so feel free to have a big pile. You always get a lot of kraut in a serving. I used to go to an Alsatian restaurant in Lyon, France and have the sampler platter and I never even to managed to eat half the kraut which was surely at least a pound and a half if not more.

If you would like to make your own sauerkraut like my grandmother and mother then let me know and I will pass along the method. It's nothing but shredded cabbage and salt and a little lacto-fermentation. It is an anaerobic process so it does take some knowledge and method but it is not hard.

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