The latest installment in NPR’s series about craaazzzyy holiday meal traditions was about a family in Charlotte who serves sauerkraut with their turkey, and how craaazzzyy that was. Well, it’s not that crazy – my mother’s mother made sauerkraut for Thanksgiving and Christmas, too. Like the family in the NPR story, my grandmother was eastern European (either Russian or Romani, depending who you ask), so I’m guessing it’s probably not at all craaazzzyyy, for people from that part of the world. It’s actually really good, too.
Anyway, the people in the story used caraway and dill for their kraut. That sounds fine. But, it’s not how I learned to do it. Here’s what I do:
- Two cans of kraut, drained
- A beer
- A cup of chicken stock
- A tablespoon of pickling spice
- A clove of garlic, chopped
- A dozen or so black peppercorns
- Three or four pork chops. Trim off any external fat.
Heat some oil in a big dutch oven, brown the pork chops. Take the pork chops out, then splash in some beer to cool down the pan a bit. Add the drained sauerkraut and garlic and gently sautee for five minutes or so, until the kraut starts turning from yellow-green to more of a straw color.
Add the pickling spice and pepper. Return the pork chops to the pot. Add enough chicken stock + beer to cover.
Then reduce the heat, cover, and let it simmer for three hours.
When it’s done, all the sharp acidity of the kraut will be gone, and replaced with something rich and mellow, spicy, with just a hint of sour. The pork should be absurdly tender. Remove the bones, if you used bone-in chops.