Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sauerkraut and Sausage - One Of My Childhood Favorites

Sauerkraut.  Like it?  Hate it?  Sauerkraut is somewhat like cilantro, no one is ambivalent about it.  No one says I can take it or leave it.  It seems that you either like it or hate it.  I am a great lover of sauerkraut.  You would have to be my age to remember when they cooked real food in school cafeterias.  Sometimes, we had smoked sausage, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.  This is one of my all time favorite childhood meals.  (Sometimes the sauerkraut would be served with hot dogs, which is good too).

I was the one child in the cafeteria who ate their sauerkraut and sausage.  There might have been more, but I never seemed to be sitting by anyone else who enjoyed this meal.  Oh well.  I liked it because we ate it at home.  We had sauerkraut at least once a week and that was okay by me.  Now Dan, on the other hand, would not put it in his mouth if his life depended upon it.  I keep telling him he doesn't know what he's missing, but he's not buying it for any reason.

It seems he has memories of his grandmother and aunts making sauerkraut in the summers when he spent time with the on their farm in Logan County, Kentucky.  He said he would stay outside all day because he could not stand the smell of it.  To me, that is very sad because it is sooooooooo good.  I'm not sure he's every tasted it.

Now, they know that sauerkraut has many health benefits because it is a fermented food and has lots of natural probiotics.  It also helps fight cancer.  Many people pay money to add probiotics to their diet when all they have to do is eat some sauerkraut on a regular basis.  You can add it to a grilled hot dog, bratwurst, smoked sausage or polish sausage sandwich.  Add some onions and mustard and you have one fantastic sandwich.  Serve it as a side dish or main dish.  It's very versatile.  Experts feel one of the reasons there are so many digestive problems in our country is because we don't eat enough fermented food.   It's time to bring back sauerkraut!  I'm in.

A week ago, I made ribs in the oven for our clients at the East Nashville CoOp Ministry.  With that, we had sauerkraut with polish sausage added for flavor and extra protein, mashed potatoes and waldorf salad.  It was delicious, nutritious and a major hit with everyone.  One of my fellow volunteers had bet me that no one would eat sauerkraut because he didn't like it and never had.  I told him I thought otherwise.  Who was the winner?  Ding, ding, ding.  Me!  There was not one shred of sauerkraut left.  Woohoo!  Another win for healthier eating which is one of our goals.

Sauerkraut is made by shredding cabbage and preserving it with salt which causes the fermentation process to happen.  The one down side to sauerkraut is that it is high in sodium.  That is why it is important to rinse it thoroughly before preparation.  The upside benefits are there are only 27 calories in a 1 cup serving with only .2 grams of fat.  There are 6.1 grams of carbohydrates and it is almost all fiber.  Sauerkraut contains vitamins C, K, and A1 plus lots of iron and all those good natural probiotics that are good for your immune and digestive system.

After preparing sauerkraut for lunch at the CoOp, I had it on my mind - actually I was craving it.  When it was time to make Sunday dinner (I invited the family over) guess what the menu was?   I made ribs, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and waldorf salad.  If I'm driving the bus, everyone is going where I go.  hahaha

Here is how I made my sauerkraut.  It is delicious made this way.

2 pound bags of sauerkraut (in the refrigerated section at the grocery store)
2 big hands full of light brown sugar
2 pounds of polish or smoked sausage, cut into 2/3 inch pieces
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
black pepper

First, put the sauerkraut in a colander and thoroughly rinse three or four times, letting it drain after each rinsing.  Place the rinsed and drained sauerkraut in a 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle the sauerkraut with 2 big hands full of light brown sugar and 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce.  Mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.  Cut the sausage into 2-3 inch sections and lay on top of the sauerkraut.

Place the pan in a 350 degree oven and bake until the sausage is brown on top and serve.  This is so yummy that it is making my mouth water writing about it.

Now that cooler weather is approaching, this is really good autumn fare.  Served with some mashed potatoes, you have an excellent meal that includes some really great health benefits and fantastic flavors.  Don't overlook sauerkraut in your diet, it tastes so good and is good for you.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Sauerkraut is tolerant, for it seems to be a well of contradictions. Not that it would preach a gastronomic neutrality that would endure all heresies. It rejects dogmatism and approves of individual tastes. It forms a marvelous combination with numerous spices, odors, or spirits: juniper berries, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cranberries, Reinette apples, stock, and wine; it even welcomes flakes of yeast or leftover Gruyère since it accepts being prepared au gratin. Its flavor sustains various potato dishes: boiled in their skins, crisps (potato chips), braised, sautéed, grilled, or simply cooked in water. It adopts many sorts of fat, including lard, butter, goose fat, or roast dripping. The variety of meats to which it consents is infinite: sausages of all kinds, such as knackwurst, white sausage, Lorraine, Montbeliard, chipolata, black pudding, hams, smoked or salted bacon, quenelles, pickled and smoked pork, goose, pheasant, etc. It makes excuses for red wine, although it has a weakness for beer and lets itself be spoilt by white wine. Each stomach may find its own happiness in it."Julien Freund, Director of the Institute of Sociology in Strasbourg, (Les Saisons d'Alsace)

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