Sauerkraut to the Rescue!
People tend to cringe when I tell them what I eat for Christmas dinner. The Sweigard household generally serves up a fairly ethnic (Estonian and German) Christmas dinner- a meat heavy, tan plate of goodness. Blood sausage, pork loin, pickled beets, sauerkraut, roasted potatoes, homemade rolls and green beans (for color I think) grace our plates every Christmas Eve, right before we go to church and pass out. I guess people get the wrong idea when they hear blood sausage- maybe it sounds kind of, well, gross. But people should keep in mind that it’s wrapped in bacon! And I’ve been eating it every year for Christmas since I was born and no one told me what it was until I was like 15! So lay off already!
Ingredients (serves like 20 people, so you know, make less)
2 GLASS JARS* (v. important) of Sauerkraut
4 strips of bacon
2 handfuls of Barley
1 bottle of dark beer (Thirsty Dog makes a few great ones)
1 head of cabbage
*I have found that glass jars make a huge difference when cooking this- the sauerkraut just tastes a million times better. Same deal with pickled beets- glass jars of beets taste awesome, cans of pickled beets taste disgusting. Please do not compare us with the Shrutes, even though my brother in law can look disturbingly like Dwight (on Halloween, if he wants to- scroll down to the bottom). We just like beets, I don’t think there is a problem with that.
Get a huge pot to cook this all in. Turn the heat on medium, stick 4 slices of bacon in the bottom. Cook them. When bacon is done, do not take out grease- this makes everything taste better.
Next, dump in your two jars of sauerkraut. Chop up your head of cabbage into chunks and throw that in too. Pour in half a bottle of beer. Chop up apple, throw in.
Sprinkle in 2 largish handfuls of barley. Cover and let simmer over low heat for several hours, 5-6 should do the trick.
Don’t forget to stir every 30ish minutes, or you’ll have a big old pot of burned sauerkraut, and that’s never good.
When done, sauerkraut should be caramel colored, and the stirring should have uniformly spread out the bacon, cabbage and apple, and look something like this:
Best eaten with the following:
This would be blood sausage, pork, the oh so famous sauerkraut, potatoes and homemade rolls.
But if you don’t have my dad on hand to cook your blood sausage for you, or a reputable butcher to buy it from, I might recommend just eating the sauerkraut with pork.
Leftovers- stick in fridge, it’s usually even better the next day and the day after that. Pork sandwiches on homemade bread topped with sauerkraut are AWESOME.