I began making sauerkraut around 17 years ago after finding a recipe in an old Gourmet magazine. That recipe called for apple, white wine and bacon, and isn’t so different from the way I make sauerkraut today, only now I also add chicken broth (a la Julia Child’s suggestion) and make sure my wine is a decent quality dry Riesling. These additions give the sauerkraut a distinctly Alsa-tian, rather than Polish or German, flavor. I make a huge pot of sauerkraut and sausage every year for a neighborhood Christmas party. To my friends and neighbors, here is the recipe you’ve been asking for.
4 pounds sauerkraut (2 2-pound bags)
½ pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
Combine the following in a piece of cheesecloth and tie tightly:
1 bay leaf
several sprigs of parsley
several sprigs of fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
8 juniper berries
approximately ½ bottle dry Riesling
approximately 2 cups chicken broth
Drain and rinse sauerkraut to desired “sourness” (I like mine tart, and rinse minimally). Let drain.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered and edges start to brown. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add drained sauerkraut and stir until coated with fat. Bury cheesecloth packet of herbs and spices in the sauerkraut. Add wine and chicken broth in equal parts, enough to just cover the surface of the sauerkraut. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and partially cover pot. Cook slowly on stovetop for 1 ½ to 2 hours, adding more chicken broth or wine if sauerkraut begins to dry out.
If you plan on serving sausages or chops with your sauerkraut, nestle them in the sauerkraut 20 minutes or so before you plan on serving them. Smoked meats can be added directly into the sauerkraut. Uncooked meat should be browned first and may take longer to cook. Makes 10 servings.