Amanda's Pork and Kraut

Amanda’s take on Grandma’s slow-cooker pork and sauerkraut, all cuddled up in a bowl by Andrew Avakian.

What does your family eat for a special holiday meal? Turkey? Sure. Ham? Yep. Turducken? If you’re feeling ambitious, go for it. My holiday meal always—ALWAYS—included pork and Grandma’s homemade sauerkraut. Jars of Grandma’s kraut are hoarded and guarded by the older members of my family like Grendel and his precious, and the dish itself is pretty hard to come by outside of sanctioned celebrations.

I finally learned to make my own version and grow my own cabbage, but sadly, don’t have the antique mandolin to slice it on; I just make due with my new-fangled Benriner model.

Slow-cooker Pork and Kraut

Ingredients:

3 – 4 pounds boneless pork loin

1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

1 quart (or 2 lbs) sauerkraut (see home-fermented recipe below, otherwise, I really like Franks.)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)

Instructions:

Pat the pork loin dry and sprinkle with the pepper. Place in slow cooker and pour kraut over the top, including all the liquid.  Sprinkle the kraut with brown sugar and caraway. Set your slow cooker to low and cook for at least 8 hours.

Homemade sauerkraut

Ingredients and materials:

1 medium head cabbage (about 3 pounds). You can use any kind of cabbage—they’re all good! I’ve experimented with adding shredded carrots and onions too!

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 – 10 days

3 one-quart, wide-mouth mason jars

3 jelly jars that fit inside the quart jars

Cheesecloth

Instructions:

Remove the outer, wilted leaves from your cabbage and cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice the cabbage into very thin ribbons using a mandolin or a large knife.

Mix the cabbage and salt, massaging the salt into the leaves for about 5 to 10 minutes. You’ll notice the cabbage going limp—that means it’s ready!

Divide the cabbage and any liquid and pack evenly into three single-quart jars. When you’ve packed all the cabbage into jars, put the jelly jar into the quart jar and weigh it down with clean stones, water, or marbles. It’s important that the cabbage is pressed down so that it stays below the liquid as it ferments. Cover with cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band.

Keep an eye on your cabbage for the next 24 hours, ensuring that it stays pressed down below the liquid. If the cabbage hasn’t expressed enough liquid to cover it after 24 hours, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in one cup of water and add enough to cover the cabbage.

Put your jars somewhere dark and cool and allow them to ferment from 3 to 10 days, depending on taste. Your kraut will keep in your fridge for up to two month, or you can freeze it in bags!

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