Garnished Sauerkraut With Smoked Meats

Here's another of the recipes from my recent article for the Athens Banner-Herald on cooking with beer.

Sauerkraut, the pickled cabbage that traditionally fed much of Northern and Eastern Europe in winter, and provided their essential Vitamin C, has many culinary uses. Not simply something to drape half-raw on hot dogs, sauerkraut, when simmered with smoked meats, fruit and seasonings is revered in Germany, Switzerland and the Alsatian portion of France. The typical cooking liquid is white wine, but there also are beer versions.

Beer is the traditional accompaniment for food cooked with beer. Though I'll confess I prefer wine with food. Riesling, preferably fairly dry, is the classical wine accompaniment to sauerkraut. But pilsner or lager type beers with low hops do well too.

In this recipe I've indicated the general type of beer used plus an Athens brew that works well.

The recipe serve six to eight. Accompany the dish with small boiled potatoes.


3 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, ninced
1 (28-ounce) can shredded sauerkraut, juice squeezed out
1 (12-ounce) bottle golden, low-hop beer, such as Terrapin Golden Ale
3/4 pound chunk or slice smoked ham or 3 smoked pork chops
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon juniper berries or allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt to taste
6 or more good German-style sausages (such as Boar's Head frankfurters, knackwurst, etc.)

Heat bacon grease or oil in stainless or enamel (not aluminum or cast iron) pot. Fry onion, stirring frequently, until turning golden. Add garlic and fry 1/2 minute.

Add squeezed sauerkraut. Stir frequently, and fry until a bit of the sauerkraut is lightly browned. Add beer, ham or pork chops, apple, herbs and spices (but not sugar or salt).

Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. The apple will break down. If liquid dries, add a little water.

Stir in sugar. Taste, and add salt to taste. Simmer another 5 minutes.

Prick sausage skins with toothpick in a number of areas. Place sausages on top of sauerkraut.

Let steam gently, covered, 5 minutes, or until sausages begin to swell. Turn sausages and lift some sauerkraut onto them. Simmer a few more minutes.

Serve with boiled, buttered and parsleyed potatoes. Accompany with German-style or Dijon mustard.