Sauerkraut is one of those dishes most people just avoid because they don’t know how good it can really be. That or they just plain don’t like varieties of pickled things. But if you cook the kraut properly it’s actually extremely delicious.
Like most foods sauerkraut is best enjoyed with some variety of smoked sausage, potatoes, and other vegetables. It’s a hearty meal and great as we head into Autumn proper.
For this recipe you’ll only need things you can get from your local market. I buy the sauerkraut from Moore Wilsons, but only because you can get these huge jars at a reasonable price. Don’t, and I mean DO NOT buy Edgells sauerkraut in the tins. It is probably the most awful pickled vegetable on the planet.
The rookwurst itself is usually in the smoked meats section (with the salamis), and is usually around $7 per sausage. It’ll feed two people (or one big bloke), so that’s good value.
The only really tricky stuff is making sure you have juniper berries, a bay leaf, cheap wine wine, and duck fat. The duck fat is optional though, you can always use a little butter.
So we’re off! The first thing to do is rinse the vinegar off your kraut. I just put it into a colander and wash it lightly in cold water. Then leave it to drain. I just used what we had left, but generally you’ll use a generous handful per person.
While that’s draining, finely chop some onions and garlic. Then add a heaped teaspoon of duck fat (or butter) to a medium sized pot. Switch on a low heat, and the fat will start to melt.
Next, add the chopped garlic and onions, and stir gently. They should be simmering in the fat, and making your whole kitchen smell fantastic.
While the garlic and onion is simmering, roughly squeeze any last water out of the sauerkraut, and add to the pot. Stir it in immediately. Then add the spices to the sauerkraut. You want about a half a teaspoon of coriander or cumin seeds, either is good. You also want 3 or four juniper berries, and a bay leaf. Stir them in.
Next, add about half a cup of white wine. Bring this all to simmer, and leave to reduce. The idea is to simmer off all the liquid leaving a rich and tangy sauerkraut. Most of the sour flavour will have left, and it’ll be delicious.
If you haven’t already, wash your potatoes, enough for two, and put into some salted water. Cover and switch on a high heat. When they start to boil, turn the heat down a little. Usually they’ll take about 20 mins to boil, which is how long the liquids in the sauerkraut will take to reduce. If either finishes first, just leave it covered with the heat off. No dramas.
Meanwhile, add the rookwurst to a pot of cold water. You want to bring this to a very light simmer, and leave to heat through. It should also take about 20 mins. Don’t bring it to the boil!! The bag surrounding the rookwurst is actually quite light, and will split. This will result in the sausage getting waterlogged and losing most of the flavour.
While the three pots are simmering away you haven’t actually got all that much to do. So prepare your vegetables. You can pretty much use whatever is in season, so I used broccoli and beans. Just chop and clean them, and leave them to one side for when the rest of the meal is cooked. (Those beans were a little manky, but still good! I just chopped off the bad bits.)
The sauerkraut is ready when the liquid has mostly simmered off, and the kraut itself is just starting to sizzle the pan. Remove it from the heat, and set it aside. Check your potatoes are tender, and remove them at well. You can eat them either whole or mashed, your preference.
Then, fish the rookwurst out of the pot, but leave the water behind.
Pop the vegetables into the (clean) rookwurst water. I mostly do this to save time. The water is still good, it’s just had a plastic bag floating in it! Then, chop the rookwurst in half. Basically, just cut through the bag, and the sausage. Simple.
Trim the little metal things off the ends of the sausage (if it has them), and the meat is cooked! Then, transfer the potatoes and kraut to a plate, add the sausage. It’s German food. It’s not rocket science, as you can see.
The vegetables should have been sitting in the simmering water while you prepared this, and should be good to go. Please don’t boil the crap out of them. Vegetables should be crisp to the bite. If they’re not you’ve basically just boiled out everything except the fibre…
Drain the greens and add to the plate. Enjoy!
(And yes, the scatological among you will notice the rookwurst looks a little like “a doody”. But it’s not.)