Recipe: Pork and Sauerkraut

I grew up with sauerkraut on the table. Not every day, or even every week. But it was a part of our family meals. Usually, there were sauteéd onions, maybe mushrooms, mixed in. Or it was the filling in pierogi, or served cold on hot dogs. But it was always a side dish, something meant to play with the main flavor of the meal.

This recipe is something that I got from a recipe card at my local Penzey’s Spices. I’m embarassed to say that I never considered using sauerkraut like this, even though it’s such a simple thing. Almost not a real recipe, as much as an idea for throwing things together. I’ve made it with pork tenderloin, cut into chunks, as well as with boneless pork country ribs, and both times it’s been out of this world.

Sauerkraut
Home-fermented sauerkraut, in-process

If you have it, go ahead and use home-fermented sauerkraut. Yeah, I know that’s a bit of an oddity, unless you homestead or follow some food trends. But it’s actually really easy to make, especially if you have an airlock system that keeps the oxygen out of your fermentation vessel, like Pickle Pipes. (Disclaimer: I’m not selling these. I got a set for Christmas from my sister, along with the Pickle Pebbles weights, and they’re easy to use and low-maintenance.)

The last time I made this, I was out of whole fennel seed, so I just tossed in 1/2 teaspoon of ground fennel instead.

Pork
Layer the pork on the kraut

Accompaniment suggestions: prepared horseradish for the meat; beets or carrots as side veg; crunchy roasted potatoes are a nice texture contrast

Pork and Sauerkraut

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart sauerkraut, undrained
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seed
  • Pork Chop Seasoning or Bavarian Seasoning
  • 6 pork chops OR 2 pork tenderloins, cut into 2″ thick slices OR 6-8 boneless pork country ribs
  • 1-2 bay leaves

Instructions:

  1. Do not drain the sauerkraut. Place the kraut, chopped apple, chopped onion, fennel seed and caraway seed in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Season pork with Pork Chop Seasoning or Bavarian Seasoning. I like the Bavarian because it’s a salt-free blend (and sauerkraut has a bunch of salt already), plus the mustard seed in it plays really well with the tang of the kraut. Brown both sides of the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. If necessary, do this in 2 batches so the meat isn’t crowded in the pan.
  3. In a 4-6 quart slow cooker crock or a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, place about 1/3 of the sauerkraut mixture. Top with the browned pork and then the rest of the kraut. If you can’t fit all the pork in a single layer, then use half in one layer, then 1/3 of the kraut (half of what’s left), another layer with the rest of the pork, and the end of the kraut on top. Add a bay leaf or two. (I always use two so that I know how many to fish out when it’s done.) Cover.
  4. If using a slow cooker, set to high for 3-4 hours (longer if you like to use low or you need to set it in the morning and let it go all day). If using a Dutch oven, place over medium heat until it reaches a simmer, then turn the heat to low and let it be for 1-2 hours.
  5. Serve 1/2 cup kraut with 1 chop/hunk of tenderloin/country rib.

 

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Dinner, March 23, 2016

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Spaghetti-style spaghetti squash, sautéed kale

Pan steam-sautéed kale (put bit of water in bottom of sauté pan, add kale, cover. Cook a few minutes until bright green, then remove lid and let water evaporate.)

Spaghetti-style spaghetti squash:

Cut squash in half, remove seeds. Place cut side up on baking pan in 375˚F oven until a paring knife pokes squash easily (this was a big squash; it took about an hour). Let cook for a few minutes. Scrape with fork to remove strands of squash from skin. Because this was such a huge squash, I used half and froze the other. I used about 300g of strands for this recipe.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, brown and crumble 20 oz. lean (93/7) ground turkey, 1 diced medium yellow onion, and 8 oz. chopped baby bella mushrooms. Season with dried minced garlic and Italian herb mix. When meat is cooked through, stir in 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes and the squash strands. Heat through.

Dinner, March 22, 2016

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Sauteed chicken breast and veg

Sauteed chicken breast, topped with homemade sweet yellow tomato chutney, oven roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, grape tomatoes.

Veggies

I’m a little sick of dealing with family members who have the palates of spoiled 6-year-olds. There are other vegetables appropriate to family celebration dinners besides corn. And they don’t have to be swimming in a pool of butter to be good.

Growing Plan 2016

I started canning in 2014, which led to having a garden in 2015. And I’m planning one for 2016. In fact, I think I’ve gone a little crazy with my box of seeds, considering that I don’t really know much about gardening. I just stick stuff in the ground and hope to end up with vegetables later.

Well, not quite that clueless, but it’s not a terrible exaggeration.

Continue reading Growing Plan 2016

Carrot Banana Zucchini Muffins

You’re probably thinking, “Woah. That’s a lot of stuff in a little muffin.” And you’d be right. But they all play so nicely together.

This is a modified version of a recipe from a cookbook I have. I tweaked a few things, and make muffins instead of the quickbread loaves the original specifies for easier portion control.

These are delicious with homemade jam, conserve, or fruit butter. (Did I mention I’m a canner, and there will be canning recipes included on this blog eventually?) Store them in the fridge – the high moisture content means these mold easily at room temp. If you don’t like eating cold muffins, just peel the paper back and pop one in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.

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Carrot Banana Zucchini Muffins

makes 24 muffins

3 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Penzey’s Cake Spice blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil (canola, corn, etc.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup golden raisins

Heat oven to 325°F. Prepare 24 muffin cups by lining with paper liners and spraying bottoms only with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, Cake Spice (or 2 additional teaspoons cinnamon), salt, baking soda and baking powder.

In medium bowl, whisk together banana, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix well. Batter will be very stiff.

Stir in zucchini, carrots and raisins.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with only moist crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Warm muffins will stick to the papers. Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration recommended, due to high moisture content.

NOTES:

  • As always, I love me some King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour.
  • If you want to add some different color and flavor to these muffins, go ahead and use other small dried fruit instead of the golden raisins: standard Thompson raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries.
  • Not zucchini season? Use frozen shredded zucchini, thawed, but give it a little hug in  a tea towel to remove some of the excess moisture.
  • As of this writing, I have a jar of Penzey’s new Pie Spice sitting on my counter. I intend to make a batch of these (as bars, not muffins) using Pie Spice instead of Cake Spice. They’re similar but different.
  • Go bananas! If you have bananas that have gone a little too brown for your preference, peel them, wrap in plastic wrap, and stash them in the freezer for recipes like this. I take out the required number, unwrap them, and microwave on medium for a minute or two to soften and thaw most of the way through. They mash quite easily after being frozen.

EDIT: I made a 9×13 pan from one recipe, baked about 42 minutes at 325°F. They will head to work with me tomorrow for my knitting class. I used the Pie Spice, but haven’t tasted the bars yet.

    Zucchini Brownies

    I know, yuck, right? Chocolate and vegetables?

    Ew.

    Sorry, that assumption is completely wrong. These brownies do not taste like vegetables. The zucchini adds body and moisture to them without adding a lot of fat or calories.

    Plus, it’s something to make from enormous harvests of zucchini that’s not bread or yet another batch of Ratatouille. I know it’s only March, and therefore not zucchini season here in the northern contiguous US, but you can totally make these with frozen zucchini. Last summer, when I’d happen upon zukes at amazing prices, I’d snap them up, wash them, shred them (thank heavens I finally got a food processor) and then freeze the shreds in 2-3 cup bags. If you use frozen, let your bag thaw, then put the shreds in a non-fuzzy tea towel and give it a squeeze to get most of the excess water out.

    This recipe was shared by a member of a forum to which I belonged that is, sadly, no longer. And I don’t have the link saved anywhere. But this is my slightly modified version.

    Notes: I increase the applesauce a bit from the original, because 1/2 cup is one of those lunchbox portion cups. No waste! My preferred flour is King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat; cocoa is King Arthur Flour Triple Cocoa Blend. I use spices and extracts, including double strength vanilla, from Penzey’s Spices.

    Zucchini Brownies

    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt (I use table salt or fine sea salt because it dissolves a little more evenly in batter)
    2 cups peeled and grated zucchini, drained if thawed from frozen
    Optional: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Heat oven to 350˚F and line an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, sugar and applesauce.

    In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Make sure there are no lumps.

    Add the dry mix to the wet and gently stir until combined. Do not overmix, as the brownies will get tough. The batter will be very, very thick at this point. Do not panic. Fold in the zucchini shreds and optional chocolate chips. See? The moisture from the zucchini loosens the batter right up! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and even the surface with a spatula.

    Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or tester inserted in the middle doesn’t come out gooey. Moist crumbs are OK, but raw gooeyness is not.

    Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the whole brownie up from the pan. Cool completely, then cut into 16 pieces.

    Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration is highly recommended, as the high moisture content means these mold easily.