Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sour Beer Makes Sauerkraut

One of my homebrew club buddies made a bad batch of beer once, and while he was busy crying in it, I recalled what I did when that happened to me. Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade. I used to cook sauerkraut with a bottle of homemade beer, and, not wanting to waste a four gallon batch of what ended up being beer vinegar, I decided to try using it instead of my good stuff. It came out really well. I actually do not like cabbage, except in two instances; coleslaw and sauerkraut. Otherwise cabbage to me is very unappealing. I was working on a boat in the gulf one time, and the cook they hired was more a baker than a cook. He cooked a large pot of cabbage and the whole vessel stunk like crazy for hours. Everyone complained, but fortunately his baking skills endeared him. His breads, biscuits and cakes and cookies were always welcome. I told him, next time you boil cabbage (if you must); cook it in an open pot. For the several months I was with him, he never even used cabbage again. But fermented cabbage made into sauerkraut is very healthful and can be a hearty meal. Here is how I like to make it.

2 Tablespoons bacon fat, lard or oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 large jar of refrigerated sauerkraut, drained
½ cup (or more) diced sausage or a mixture of diced pork loin, frankfurters and sausage
1 cup Ale, Beer, or even white wine (but beer is better I think)
¼ to ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
Heavy pinch of black pepper
Pinch of brown sugar

Melt the fat in a large skillet or Dutch oven (I use cast iron ones). Over medium heat add the onion and stir for about a half minute or so. Add everything else and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until it is almost dry. It should be moist but not soupy. If using pork, be sure it is cooked through. I like to use a malty brew, but whatever your choice might be, use that. Serves 4.

If you don’t think you like sauerkraut, try this once. I don’t like cabbage, but I love this. You just might too.

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