Saturday, April 5, 2008

Apr 5 - Ribs, Sausage and Sauerkraut

I had sauerkraut leftover from my Reuben sandwiches and was trying to figure out what to do with bag of fermented cabbage.

I was not craving sauerkraut as a condiment but craving sauerkraut in some type of braised dish. In college, I remember the dining hall served sauerkraut and sausage, but the stuff that the dining hall served was pungent and quite sour. If memory serves me right, I seem to recall that didn't finish my lunch that day. Huh! Yes, I know that's a shocker. However, cooked sauerkraut sounded appealing to me. Maybe something stuck in the back of my mind from the cooking shows I watch.

I knew I wanted to use pork and sauerkraut. I looked on allrecipes for sauerkraut recipes. The recipes all seemed straight forward so I winged it.

Another bonus, I was looking in the back of my refrigerator and found a bottle of hard apple cider. Hard apple cider is similar to Martinelli's sparkling cider but with alcohol and a little on the dry side, which makes sense since some of the sugars are converted to alcohol. I was hoping the apples/sugars would help mellow out the sauerkraut.

The Fixin's
1/2 slab (6 or 7 bones) Spare ribs - I used half a slab just in case the recipe turned out terrible
2.5 C (about 20 oz) Sauerkraut - rinsed and drained
1/2 lb Kielbasa Sausage
1 Fuji Apple, chopped - I like Fuji's for their firm, crispy flesh and are very sweet
Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper
4 cups (about) Russet Potatoes cut into 2"/3" chunks

Ribs are cut and seasoned with a little garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon), salt and pepper.

Lightly browned the ribs in a Dutch oven. Added the apples on top.

Layered in the sauerkraut and sausage on top. Simmer on the stove top for 2 hours.

My idea with layering was the apples would flavor the pork, the sauerkraut would flavor the apples and pork and on top the sausage would flavor everything below. Does it really make a difference? Probably not. Just a wild hair.

After the first hour, I gave the mixture a stir to mix all the ingredients.
I added and mixed in the potatoes for the last hour.

After two hours of simmering the dish was plated.

The Final Dish
Sausage, sauerkraut, potatoes, ribs and buttered dark rye bread.

Overall, the dish turned out very good. The sauerkraut was very mellow. You could taste a little sourness, but was not overwhelming. In fact, I was a little underwhelmed. The potatoes were soft and mash-able on the plate. A little butter and the juices from the braised mixed very well with the potatoes. The pork itself was a little stringy. The half slab was from the portion away from the breast bone. The meat away from the breast bone (sternum) tends to be from the diaphragm which can be stringy.

The sauerkraut - when the dish was simmering there was no stinky odor permeating the house. Probably due to the fact that the sauerkraut itself was mellower to start out with and due to the rinsing. In fact, if I make this dish again, I may not rinse the sauerkraut in order to get a stronger flavor.

The pork - depending upon the recipes different cuts were used: ribs, loin roast, pork chops... etc. I picked spare ribs. I was craving ribs and ribs were on sale. Next time, I'd stick with chops or a roast. Country style ribs would probably work too. For spare ribs, I would use the end towards the breast bone or back ribs.

The apples - the flavor the the apples were cooked out. There was no hint of apple in the dish. I'm sure the sugars added to the flavor of the whole dish, but definitely no apple taste. Maybe a teaspoon of sugar would work if you have no apples or a granny smith if you want an apple flavor.

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