February 23, 2004

From Our Feared Recipe Collection

Oh No!
It's Time for an Installment of ...

WE WERE BLESSED TONIGHT with a bit of spare time on our hands, so we were able to spend much of our time doing needed chores: cleaning, doing the laundry, and best of all, actually cooking a proper meal.

Now, because we are having an iffy-to-decent week thus far, we decided tonight that we would cook a perfectly healthy and economical meal -- and one that superstition holds will bring us good luck. Hence, we prepared a casserole-dish full of our Pork and Sauerkraut recipe (lit. Waswirinderkücheammontag-gelassenhaben).

We have adapted (read: largely stolen) this recipe from a variety of sources, including one of those cheap Barnes & Noble cookery books ("The Cook's Encyclopedia of French Cooking") and the back of the supermarket sauerkraut package, but we think it works. We have also adapted it to suit our own tastes, as well; for instance, the bookstore cookery book informs us we should ruin the dish with apple juice and white wine, in addition to things like juniper berries. Other recipes call for brown sugar, or such absurdities as cream of mushroom soup. Amazingly, some even call for putting corn into the dish.

We are naturally skeptical of such adulterations, as we don't think our Alsatian forebears could just go out and buy corn and cream of mushroom soup. We also have one added bonus to our version, as we see it: it is lower in carbohydrates due to the omission of potatoes, a common and reasonable ingredient in many recipes. But anyway: here are our two recipes for Pork and Sauerkraut:

Ben's Easily-Prepared Pork & Sauerkraut
Perfect for a late and pleasing supper, a Sunday lunch, or when the French or Germans have besieged your region again and you've only got a few hours before heading to the basement shelter*

You Will Need:
3-4 pork chops, for perhaps one pound of meat
1 lb. bag or can of sauerkraut, drained
1 properly strong white onion, chopped
salt and pepper
high-quality beer (such as Sam Adams)
also a relatively deep skillet

1. Chop the onion, taking care to avoid wiping your eyes and burning them. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, apply a couple of tablespoons of oil to the skillet, and heat it to medium-high or so. Fry up the pork chops and the onion for a few minutes, until the pork chops are browned and the onion is a bit soft.

3. Add in the drained sauerkraut, along with the salt, pepper, and a bit of the beer. Simmer for about two hours or so, adding beer to the skillet and down your throat as required.

4. Serve up. Pork and sauerkraut is supposed to bring luck, and you're probably going to need it. Drink with the beer in which you simmered the whole mess. Enjoy until finished, or until you can hear the mortar fire in the distance. In the latter case, store for easy reheating the next day.

* Here's more information on long-suffering Alsace.

Ben's Moderate-Skill Pork & Sauerkraut
Perfect for New Year's Day, or when one has a yen to engage in some decent cooking, has a Saturday afternoon free, or wants to celebrate throwing off the yoke of some oppressor

You Will Need:
3-4 pork chops, for perhaps one pound of meat
1 lb. bag or can of sauerkraut, drained
1 lb. extremely-high quality bratwurst or other German sausage
1 properly strong white onion, chopped
2 or 3 strips of bacon
salt and pepper
garlic powder
good spice mixture, such as Montreal Steak seasoning
high-quality beer (such as Sam Adams)
also a relatively deep skillet and a good baking dish
Tagamet or other anti-stomach ailment medication

1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop up the bacon and the onion. Set aside. Spray your skillet with cooking spray or throw in 2 tbsp. or so of cooking oil.
2. Fry the bacon and the onion a few minutes. Transfer to your baking dish. Add in the drained sauerkraut to the baking dish, pour about 2/3rds of a bottle of beer over the mixture, cover with alumnium foil, and throw in the oven.
3. Whilst the vegetables are cooking, rub the pork chops with the aforementioned spices. Fry the chops until they are browned. As this is happening, defrost or otherwise ensure the sausages are at room temperature.
4. When the chops are done, set aside. Remove the baking dish from the oven after about twenty minutes or so, and throw in the sausages and pork chops.
5. Recover the dish, and let the sucker cook for about an hour and a half. This is a good time to get a head start on cleaning the other dishes. Also, if you have a weak stomach, take some Tagamet while you're thinking of it.
6. Remove the dish from the oven, and let stand for a minute or two. Then serve and enjoy -- drink the same type of beer which you used to cook the whole casserole. Pork and sauerkraut is supposed to bring good luck, making this a fine dish to serve prior to asking for a raise, hoping your car passes its annual inspection, and so on.
6b. Also, if applicable, denounce that neighbor you don't like as a collaborationist.

Anyway, now that our latest batch of our pork-and-sauerkraut is done, we're going to go and enjoy it. We hope you've enjoyed this installment of "Stuck in the Kitchen with Ben," and look forward to providing you with future updates.

Note: each recipe makes enough for between two to three, if not more, meals for a sedentary 28-year-old New Hampshire resident. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 23, 2004 10:40 PM | TrackBack

Hope to see more 'Stuck in the Kitchen with Ben' segments, and will purchase the book when it comes out! - cj

Posted by: cousin jannie at February 24, 2004 09:35 AM

This is truly amusing. Political and German and really gross AND funny. I find your writings enjoyable, but this is the first one that made me laugh out loud. LOL, as it were. :-)

Posted by: princess jami at February 24, 2004 11:12 AM

My previous comment refers to both this post and the February 23rd offering.

Also, now I want pork chops.

Thank you. That is all.

Posted by: Princess Jami at February 24, 2004 11:59 AM

A tip for the onion -- rinse in cold water while peeling the outer skin -- reduces the tear factor quite a bit. So does using a vidalia onion, but that's something else altogether. :-)

Posted by: Geoff Brown at February 26, 2004 10:51 PM