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I have to confess that there is one thing on earth that I really love, and that is sauerkraut. It is something I grew up with. With the exception of my father, we all love it.
Because my father was not overly fond of it, it wasn’t something my mother cooked very often, but when she did we were all in heaven. She never did anything fancy to it.
It was simply sauerkraut cooked for hours on the stove with perhaps a bit of pickled pork or ham added to it, sometimes wieners. I loved coating my potatoes with lots of butter and mashing the kraut down into them.
I suppose wieners are not all that different from smoked sausage. You can also use ham hocks if you wish, or even bacon. I like smoked sausage.
When I was in Austria I got to enjoy a smoked bratwurst served with kraut and tiny boiled potatoes. Oh my but it was some good, served with some spicy grainy mustard. I think that was one of my favorite meals I had in Austria.
My maternal grandfather was of German Dutch descent and he used to make his own sauerkraut, and pickled pork also. There were really strict rules surrounding the making of it.
Something to do with starting it with a new moon, etc. but I am not really sure what they are. I do know that sauerkraut is very good for you. Mom swore that the juice from raw kraut was the cure for many ailments!
Sauerkraut was invented a very long time ago as a means of preserving cabbage. It is made by mixing together shredded fresh cabbage and salt and pressing down on the mixture, which releases water and causes fermentation.
Fermentation brings to life wonderfully healthy microbes, which may be enough incentive for you to eat that little pile of kraut that gets served up with your potatoes and sausages.
My sister still makes her own. She makes all kinds of it too. Mexican kraut, spicy kraut, etc. I have tasted it and its fantastic! It is delicious raw.
When I cook kraut, I do like to add a few bits to it which really help to enhance its flavors and bring it to life. I start with onions and apples. Sauerkraut, onions and apples are a trinity of excellent taste!
I know some people leave the skin on their apples. I like to remove it. I am not overly fond of the texture of cooked apple skin. I’m not overly fond of it raw either for that matter!
You need to drain and rinse your kraut. Because salt is the preservative used to ferment it, it is always quite salty. Draining off the liquid and rinsing it with clean cold water helps to get rid of some of that. If you still think its salty, ( taste a bit) you can rinse and drain it again.
Well drained raw kraut is great on sandwiches and in salads, but if you are going to be cooking it, you will want to replace the liquid with something. Some people simply use boiling water.
Still others use broth or beer. I like to use apple juice. It has a flavor that is only slightly sweet and it goes wonderfully with the kraut.
I also add a bit of brown sugar to help combat the sourness of the kraut. No, it doesn’t make the kraut sweet, but it does mellow it out a bit.
Of course you really need to add something a bit smoky to the mix. Smoked sausage is perfect, as is kielbasa, or thick bacon, pickled pork, ham hocks, etc. Today I used a smoked sausage (because there is only me.)
This imparts a lovely smoky flavor to the mix which I quite enjoy. But then I also enjoy spare ribs, or pork chops. If you can get smoked chops, so much the better.
There is something about pork that makes it the perfect partner for kraut. Perhaps that is because pork is somewhat of a sweet meat? I don’t know. It could also be that pork lends itself perfectly to the longish slow cooking of the kraut.
Mom used to let it cook for most of the day. It would be literally melting in your mouth. There is nothing wrong with that. I like it to maintain a tiny bit of bite myself.
To be honest I could be happy with just a bowl of kraut and nothing else. Ohhh, have you ever tried sauerkraut soup? If not you really should. Its delicious. You can find my recipe for that here.
You make it in the crock pot and its fabulously tasty. Its the perfect meal to make when you got lots of other things on the go and don’t have a lot of time to be fussing about with cooking.
I just love it. I need to buy myself a crock pot. I am just not sure if I should get a small one or a larger one. Its hard to know.
Most of the time it will be just me, but sometimes I will have visitors, and there is nothing like being able to pop supper into the crock pot when you have company for the weekend. It leaves you free to do other things.
One thing that has not changed through the years is my love of enjoying kraut with mashed potatoes. Making mashed potatoes is not really a difficult thing to do.
I usually plan on one medium sized floury potato per person, plus one for the pot. A floury potato is a potato that mashes well. You don’t want to use new or waxy salad potatoes. They won’t mash properly. Floury potatoes fluff up nicely.
Just peel your potatoes, quarter them and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a quick simmer and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Drain well and return them to the pot, shaking them over the residual heat of the burner to dry them out a bit. Mash well with a knob of butter and a bit of warm milk. How much you need depends on taste and how much the potatoes absorb milk. Some days I need more than others. Start with a little bit and work your way up.
Mash, season and serve up. Lovely jubbly. A nice big knob of butter melting on top, that smoked sausage and a nice pile of kraut and I am in heaven!
Smoked Sausage & Sauerkraut
Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 45 MinTotal time: 55 Min
Simple ingredients cooked well, this always goes down a real treat. You can also easily downsize it to feed just one (see recipe notes). I like to eat this with a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes. Its delicious!
4 smoked sausages
1 tsp canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 (16 oz/453g) container of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and cut into half moons
1 cup (240ml) apple juice
2 TBS brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the smoked sausage and brown carefully on all sides.
Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until just beginning to soften, without browning.
Add the apple, drained and rinsed kraut, apple juice and brown sugar, nestling it in around the sausage. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.
Cover and cook on low for 40 to 45 minutes until the liquid has mostly been absorbed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
Serve hot, placing a portion of sausage and some of the sauerkraut on each of four heated plates.
Serve with your favorite accompaniments. I like fluffy mashed potatoes with mine, Some people like fried potatoes. There is no right or wrong!
To serve one:
1 smoked sausage
1/2 small onion peeled, and cut into half moons
1/2 small apple, peeled, cored and cut into half moons
1/4 cup(60ml) apple juice
approximately 1 cup of sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
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Debunking the myths of English Cookery, one recipe at a time. The English Kitchen http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/
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