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New Year's Day - Pork and sauerkraut recipe, anyone?

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I'm southern, and of course I'm used to cooking pork roast, hoppin' john, collard greens and cornbread for new year's. This year I'm cooking for our big melded family - my brother and I (expats from Georgia living in Cleveland), his fiance from Michigan, and all the kids (9 of them, ages 6 - 16).

My future sister-in-law (who I adore) has told me that pork and sauerkraut was her family's lucky new year's tradition she grew up with. Her mom and dad both passed away last year, so of COURSE I want to make her ANYTHING that makes her, if not happy, then at least a little bit feeling cared and loved.

I've had yucky pork and sauerkraut, the roast being embedded in a pool of canned sauerkraut, sprinkled with salt and pepper, a little apple added. Bland, dry, and blah.

Any ideas how to make this delicious? I've searched the interwebs and haven't found anything useful. Maybe brining the roast and cooking it separately?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! (OH, and happy new year!)

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  1. This is a pretty typical Pennsylvania Dutch new year's meal (said to brink good luck, as your future SIL notes). I've never made it, but my dad (not PA Dutch, btw) makes his and it's meltingly good. You might want to search for Pennsylvania Dutch Pork and Sauerkraut recipes and see if you find any useful tips. Certainly, the quality of the pork and the sauerkraut will impact the final results. Get yourself a good deli-style sauerkraut or a good-quality bagged sauerkraut (refrigerated section).

    Oh, and mashed potatoes are divine with this! Happy New Year to you, too!

    1. Use lean meat or, if necessary, remove as much of the fat as possible from about two pounds of pork ribs and brown them in a large heavy pot with a bit of oil. When the meat is nicely browned, keep the heat at about medium level and deglaze the pot with about 1/4 cup of water, then pour in about 2/3 cup - 1 cup of Riesling. Cover the ribs with a good quality sauerkraut (drained of course), some sliced onions, 1 1/2 cups of freshly sliced mushrooms and two cups of apple slices. I use golden delicious, and I prefer the sauerkraut in glass jars but I don't recall the brand. I just know it when I see it. I might also sprinkle on some fennel seed or chopped fresh fennel, but if you don't like that you can leave it out. Or, you can use some other herb the you feel accommodates your taste preference.
      Put all of that on low heat, just high enough to maintain a very low simmer, covered, and maintain the simmer for 2 -3 hours (longer is OK but don't go past the four hour mark)
      but check it from time to time to make sure it doesn't go dry, adding boiling water in small amounts to maintain the liquid level if necessary. The less you uncover it to check, the longer the liquid will remain in the pot.

      1. Start with some minced bacon, fry it until the fat comes out. You can drain some of the fat off. Add a minced onion, a couple chopped apples, until they brown a bit. I will add some fresh chopped cabbage at this point until it wilts. Add the kraut, a smoked pork chop and/or some ham or pork loin, a few mild pork sausages, a little white wine, whole black pepper, a little anise seed. Let it simmer a while and then add some potatoes until they are cooked through. We have mustard with it when its done. That's what I'm making on new year's eve.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TIRGL

          Thanks. I just added that to my recipe collection.

          1. re: TIRGL

            My God - that sounds delicious!!

          2. My grandmother and mother (from Amish country) always used cream of mushroom soup to braise the meat and kraut in to give it a more creamy texture. Be sure to rinse the kraut very well, and I have started adding fresh criminis. I have not found another recipe online that uses the mushroom soup, but find that it cuts the tartness of the kraut for those who aren't really into that type of flavor.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kea1110

              OH all you beautiful people. This is exactly what I needed. I've never made it before, and my brother asked me to make it 'just like fiance did last year, but make it taste good.'. Bless her heart.

              I knew I'd get great suggestions here, I do so love this board. Happy New Year!

            2. I grew up on pork and sauerkraut and I love it straight, none of that apple, brown sugar, caraway seeds, etc...
              A good piece of pork, the best sauerkraut, and fresh course ground black pepper makes this dish.

              Here's my simple recipe that we love to eat on Kaiser Rolls!

              Pork butt - about 5# - don't trim the fat (I usually buy one with a little fat - if it has too much you can trim it a little)
              1 large jars/packs (32 oz) of Silver Floss (or your fav) sauerkraut DO NOT DRAIN
              2 - 4 cups water
              Coarsely Ground Fresh Cracked Pepper - to taste (this is a must have or at least the the coarse ground pepper you can buy - none of that fine ground stuff)
              Salt - to taste

              Rinse pork and pat dry
              Season pork on all sides with season salt and coarse ground fresh cracked pepper
              Place fat side down in hot pot and sear for 5 minutes to render fat - then sear on each side for 5 minutes each
              Add water then sauerkraut
              Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer
              Cook (simmer) until meat is tender and has fallen apart - about 2 hours or so
              Keep an eye on the juice level - if it cooks out add more water - about a cup or two more should do it - you want it to be juicy but not watery
              Taste - reseason if necessary
              Pick out any pieces of fat
              Serve
              I like to serve with a warm crusty bread with cold real salted butter - Yummy!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Polish Princess

                Polish Princess, you got it! That's the same way I make it too!
                And it's out of this world just plain delicious.

              2. I think that this dish benefits from a piece of pork that is a little fattier/connective tissue-y and can stand up to a long cooking time. Also, the meat will toughen and dry even at the barest simmer. I suggest starting this on the stove and finishing in the oven. As far as cuts, Shoulder would work but is a little cumbersome. Knuckles are excellent in this as are thick cut ribs.

                I make this all the time and I am very pleased with not only the ease of it but also the result.

                My recipe is as follows;

                -Brown pork pieces (three pounds?) in lard (or your lipid of choice). Remove.
                -Sweat three med onion, sliced thin.
                -Add one heaping pint DRAINED kraut (rinse if you choose. I usually don't). We are lucky enough to have our choice of butcher shops here that carry the real thing so I can't recommend a brand
                - Add 1t Juniper berries, 1tsp caraway seeds, two bay leaves, 2/3 c stock and 2/3 c dry white wine. Bring to simmer and tuck pork pieces in and around. As a nod to both your southern roots and the good people of Alsace, you may tuck a thick knob or two of double smoked bacon in there. In fact, I insist that you do.
                - Transfer covered pot to 160 degree oven for four hours (yes, time and temp are both correct. Much hotter and you will end up with wretched dry pork)
                - Adjust seasoning to taste and you're off to the races. Don't salt beforehand as it is very easy to miss the mark.

                This should serve six to eight comfortably, especially with another side. It is easy as pie to scale so have at it.

                A thought; you could do this with a bone in rack of pork. It wouldn't be too hard to find and will look mighty impressive. Just brown as a single piece and follow the directions above, nesting the piece all the way in the kraut as it cooks. The key here is loooooow and sloooooow.

                Enjoy!

                1. Having grown up in Cleveland and eaten pork and kraut EVERY new year's day I can assure you the selection of kraut is key. I grew up on the east side and I know there are butchers who sell delicious homemade tasting kraut. It is worth the effort to find. In all my attempts, grocery store sauerkraut is just no where near as good.

                  My grandmother always creamed the sauerkraut which I've not found in other recipes- to do so you brown butter and onions, make a roux (brown flour into the butter- usually equal parts butter and flour) then add the sauerkraut and some of the au jus from the roast. Should not be thick, not even as thick as gravy, so water may need to be added or more broth. Serve with applesauce, potatoes: either mashed or added white potatoes to the roast and kraut. Especially good if you make potato dumplings.
                  Sorry, no advice for the pork though- I'm not the one who cooks the meat. I'm fairly certain it is a rolled shoulder roast.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tjdavis

                    I just bought, from my butcher, a pound of their 'fresh' sauerkraut and a ham hock (about 2 lb). I'll drain, and possibly rinse the kraut, then put it in a dutch oven with the hock, some diced onion, and possibly a diced apple (or dried apple if I have that on hand), and cook it in a low oven (covered) till the meat is falling off the bone, and everything has developed a nice dark color. It doesn't need to be much fancier than that. Spaetzle is my preferred side dish.