Cooking and Draining Sauerkraut
I was in Germany once and I noticed that the sauerkraut tasted significantly different than the stuff I make at home. I know... big surprise food tastes better in the country it comes from.
But I would like to recreate this on some level in my own home. What is the traditional German way to prepare sauerkraut? It's not as simple scoop it out of its container.
Also, when a direction calls to drain the Sauerkraut, how well should it drain?
This is strictly personal: I'm not a huge sauerkraut fan, so I like changing the flavor somewhat. However, based on Julia Child's The Way to Cook and my own experience:
If the vinegar flavor is very strong, you will want to drain it well and maybe rinse it a few times. If it is mild, just drain off the juices -- I am assuming you buy it in the refrigerator section packed in plastic, not in the cans. The canned stuff is, IMHO, inedible.
Toss the well-drained sauerkraut with sliced onions; I like to add caraway seeds too. Then I put it in the bottom of my roasting pan, add some chicken broth and a couple of bottles of lager, and start roasting it (uncovered) in a 350-degree oven. Depending on what pork products are going in, I may add them as well -- a bone-in pork roast, for instance -- or wait for a hour (sausages). Usually I'll do it more as a choucroute, with a variety of pork products (roast, sausages, and some kind of smoked pork).
When the top of the sauerkraut starts to turn golden, stir the whole thing. Add more beer as needed to keep it from drying out. Keep doing this until the sauerkraut is a lovely golden-brown throughout and all the pork products are cooked through. My late father, Pennsylvania Dutch through-and-through, thought it was the best sauerkraut he'd ever eaten.
Make sure you buy a good german sauerkraut like Hengstenberg wine sauerkraut. You can add onions, apples and carraway seeds if you like. Also add either a smoked tenloin or a pices of fresh pork butt. Simmer slowly until the fresh butt is cooked through, serve with mashed potatoes and the meat and mmmm enjoy.
I brought back plastic-foil (?) packs of sauerkraut from Germany. We had the kraut with wurst the other night with a couple of Germans. I did not strain or rinse, just into the pans, each combined with different herbs and sausages. It was all great, including one pan that got a final rum flambe.
re: Sam Fujisaka
This works well for our family. Drain the kraut and rinse a few times. Melt about 2 tbsp. butter and a bunch of chopped green onions. Saute for a few minutes and add the kraut. Let it fry up for about 7-8 mins and turn it with a spatula and fry it up for about 5-7 mins. This takes a lot of the strong vinegary, salty taste and is sooo good.!