In this post I’m going to show you just how easy making your own homemade sauerkraut is and then a great and easy recipe for how to cook with it using your Fornetto!
For those of you familiar with Sauerkraut, you’ll know that it’s a food that has gone through the process of fermentation. That’s what makes it sour. Many people think that fermentation is connected to rotting and although certain bacteria are used to ferment, namely different species of lactic acid bacteria, fermentation for consumption is achieved in a controlled manner that allows the food to be broken down, soured safely by the lactic acid created by the bacteria and preserved naturally without the need for any added chemicals. The result is an exceptionally healthy food, full of probiotics, that is easy to digest as enzymes and proteins have been partially broken down and the bacteria that did the job make up a huge part of the beneficial flora in our digestive systems. Once people understand that many of the foods that they eat on a regular basis have been fermented (also referred to as cultured) such as kosher dills, yogurt and hundreds of other dairy products including cheese, opinions often change about fermentation.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own Sauerkraut. Cabbage, carrots if you like and salt. That’s it, that’s all. It really is that simple.
I always use a jar with a narrow neck, clip-style lid and gasket but feel free to use a wide-mouth mason-type jar, crock pot or barrel if you prefer, it all depends on your preference and the amount you’re making. When fermenting any vegetable, the golden rule is that it be kept away from any air until it has completed the fermentation process, at which point it can be kept in the refrigerator for several months. The way in which the cabbage is kept away from air is by keeping it submerged under its own juices. If you use a narrow-necked jar, you can simply push all the cabbage down forcing the liquid to the top and using a clean plastic bag filled with a bit of water, fill the neck to prevent the cabbage from surfacing (as you’ll see in the video) or you can weigh everything down using a plate and a stone if you’re using a vessel wide enough to do so. It all depends on the container you choose but I find the narrow-necked jar method the easiest. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to view the video demonstration or click here to read the method.
Whether you’re going to make the Sauerkraut yourself or buy it, below is a simple and delicious way to create a Sauerkraut based dish to cook in your Fornetto with lots of smoked meats that is sure to please any lover of smoked food. Be sure that if you are going to buy the Sauerkraut, to purchase one that hasn’t been spiced or prepared with wine.
As I mentioned, this dish is really simple and it’s often the simple dishes that have people coming back for more and more. This recipe is no exception and in fact it’s less of a recipe than a manner in which to prepare Sauerkraut. You’ll need a good amount of Sauerkraut to line the bottom of a roasting dish thickly, mixed with bacon and red currants (fresh or frozen), doused with a good white wine like a Riesling and laced with dry mustard seeds. The amounts you use are completely up to you and besides using too much wine, which would make it too “liquidy”, you can’t really go wrong. The Sauerkraut mélange is then topped with any variety of smoked meats (preferably smoked in the Fornetto previously) such as a mix of smoked sausages, chicken, pork chops, ribs or turkey. Anything smoked works perfectly for this dish, though I would steer clear of smoked fish prepared in this manner as the humidity from the kraut will make the fish soggy. If your preference is fish, you’re better off preparing the Sauerkraut alone and serving it alongside smoked fish and potatoes, as potatoes are a more traditional accompaniment to smoked fish. Click on the image for our quick guide to smoking!
The way to cook this dish isn’t to heat it enough to bring it to a roaring boil as the meat and Sauerkraut are ready to be eaten as they are but rather to simmer it well enough that the alcohol from the wine evaporates, to allow the bacon and berries to infuse their flavours and to ensure that the mustard seeds plump up nicely. Ideally, if you have smoked the meats you’ll be using, you’re Fornetto will already be hot and it will be a cinch to bring it up to 170C (340F) to prepare the dish. Heat it covered for the first 30 minutes and uncovered for a further 30 minutes to allow the extra liquid to evaporate.
Serve the Sauerkraut and smoked meat medley directly from your roasting dish. Click on the image for the Fornetto dish I used here.
Serve it with beer, spicy mustard and horseradish on the side. This is a very hearty dish as it is, though if you’d like to serve a starch along side I suggest crusty bread or fries, but believe me, you probably won’t need to!
You’re in for a treat. Enjoy!
A cool note about Sauerkraut: Anyone taking antibiotics can benefit greatly from eating fermented/cultured foods as they naturally replenish the good bacteria in our digestive system that has been killed off by the antibiotics, which unfortunately, kill both beneficial and harmful bacteria.