Sunday, February 25, 2007

Shout Out to Kraut

You ever take a dish to a pot luck party and try to hoard it all yourself?
I invariably fall in love with what I make, and have a hard time sharing. The only reason I'm still allowed to go to pot luck parties is because yes, I want to taste what you made, and you, and you, and you. So I will put small dabs of everything on my plate first, and only then will I allow myself to put a spoonful of my own contribution on my plate, where I've left a tiny hole.
See? I'm in control. Help yourself to some of my lovely offering; there's plenty for all.
Now, maybe sauerkraut is not exactly the type of thing you'd get all swoony over, but I would. I love sour stuff. So when Cranky and I were invited to feast on roasted goose with a couple dozen other epicures, I volunteered to bring sauerkraut as a side dish.
I did not ferment my own cabbage, though I would have liked to; there just wasn't enough time. Instead, I bought two large jars of pretty good stuff and tinkered with flavors and long, slow baking to come up with a meltingly caramelized mess. The only problem was that the kraut began to shrink, only partly due to evaporation; more likely due to the cabbage's cell structure breaking down in the heat.
Alas, I ended up toting a rather skimpy-looking quantity to the party, where I wanted it all to myself... but everybody was well-mannered and we shared.
I sampled lots of yummy dishes at the party; I'm so glad I didn't fill up on my own contribution.

Briefly, here's how it goes, with quantities per 25-oz. jar: Drain sauerkraut (and save the juice; you'll think of something to do with it in a day or so). Rinse half the sauerkraut to remove saltiness, but keep the other half salty; press out extra liquid.
Dice two or three strips of bacon and cook them until just nicely brown; dump the bacon AND THE FAT into a baking dish or casserole.
Cut an onion into thin, thin slices or half-moons. Stir the onion and sauerkraut into the bacon. Give it a nice crack of black pepper.
Here comes the good part (as if the bacon wasn't the good part). Squeeze the juice of at least two blood oranges into the sauerkraut mixture. Don't get it all soggy, but you definitely want to see some color and taste some citrus.
Cover the dish and bake at 250ºF for at least two hours.
Remove the cover, try a bite and see if you'd like more orange juice. With cover off, continue baking for another hour.
I took this to the party in a CrockPot, where it sat warming on the low setting for another hour before we dug in.

We've made another batch for ourselves already.
Yesterday I got the bright idea of chopping up a teensy tail end of leftover andouille sausage and stirring it into some of the sauerkraut, and putting this on rye bread with mustard and "Thousand Island" sauce (ketchup plus mayonnaise), then grating Emmental cheese over it, and grilling it in butter. A Reuben sandwich without corned beef! Cranky calls it "Reubenesque."


tammy said...

I get weak in the knees just thinking about sauerkraut. Love it. Don't eat it enough. Thanks for the technique. And that's a great plate. So diner-y.

Liz said...

Except for the blood orange, that sounds very similar to my Polish grandmother's "kapusta". Mmmmmm... love it served with smoked kielbasa from the Polish butcher.

Great. Now I need to wipe the drool off my keyboard. And find a Polish butcher in Maine.

Kalyn said...

I'd love a bite of that "Rubenesque" sandwich. I'm crazy about sauerkraut.

McAuliflower said...

Sauerkraut is one of those odd picky-kid food hold overs that I still haven't retried as an adult.

But thanks to the cute potluck comment, I'm marking this recipe for my rainy day file!

Amy Sherman said...

It was very rich and delicious. Have you thought about adding any juniper berries? I crush a few when I make any kind of chaucroute.

Monkey Gland said...

When I was a student, one of my flatmates left a unfinished plate of sauerkraut under the sofa for about a month. I've never really been able to see the stuff in the same way since...

Dagny said...

Oooo. It's a good thing I just ate. Because I love anything with sauerkraut. And now, I too will be wiping off some drool.

cookiecrumb said...

Tammy: Aw! I knew I liked you. (That plate... So Cute! And dishwasher-proof.)

Liz: I was just winging it without a recipe, but I won't pretend I didn't already have some idea where I was trying to take this. You could sub regular oranges for blood oranges.

Kalyn: Wow, you too! Smack, smack.

McAuliflower: That is indeed a compliment. Do you know how crappy canned sauerkraut is compared with the real, naturally fermented kind? Go find some.

Amy: Heh. Yeah. Bacon fat. Thanks. I actually have some juniper berries on hand and considered crunching some in. And I also considered caraway seeds... But. No.

MG: Oh, no. That, to me, adds up to unemptied litter box. Ew. I bet I could woo you with some of this and a sausage. And a beer.

Dagny: And you as well? I really thought I was the oddball here. Great. Get cookin'.

Anna Haight said...

ooohhh this looks good. I like sauerkraut too! The Rubeneque sandwich looks perfect for lunch!

ilva said...

I can't believe it! A pink recipe 'square'(the usual lack of the right word!) WOW!!

Kevin said...

That sandwich is certainly plump enough to be called "Rubinesque."

Rachael said...

I admit, I just had to comment on the title of this post. I cannot stop giggling.

Shout out to Kraut indeed.


kungfoodie kat said...

I loved this 'kraut! I'm have to try it but since my sweetie D doesn't do bacon (yes...insane) I'll need to use my alternate method of diced turkey ham or turkey bacon. I'll let you know how it turns out.

cookiecrumb said...

Anna: As always, it's a Cookiecrumb-style recipe, which means you get to tinker with it.

Ilva: (Blush.) Not too technical, but cute.

Kevin: Plump and (here it comes) juicy.

Rachael: I try, I try. Thanks.

Kat: Turkey would work! But -- you really want some animal grease in there.