I told Hilary I would post this recipe for her. I have eaten a lot of sauerkraut and this is my favorite way. German sauerkraut is different than this. It is much more mild. It often has things like apple and bits of bacon in it. I imagine that this recipe is the Dutch peasant way of making it, modernized, of course, to fit American grocery stores.
These are the ingredients:
1 jar of sauerkraut--make sure to buy it in a jar, the canned stuff is nasty. I haven't tried the deli section kind. I usually buy a big jar of Steinfeld's. You may want to start with the smaller jar.
1 polska kielbasa--I prefer the lite kind.
1 package of bacon--don't substitute pre-cooked.
1 pot of potatoes
Here's what you do, in no particular order:
1. Cut up the kielbasa into serving sized pieces. (A package has eight servings.) Put them in the bottom of a pot. Pour the sauerkraut and juice over them and heat until bubbly. I usually put this on about the same time as the potatoes and just let it simmer until the potatoes are done.
2. Cut the potatoes into bit sized pieces. I peel them, but that is a taste issue you'll have to decide. Put them in the pot and cover them with water. Salt them heavily. Potatoes are where flavor goes to die. Cook the potatoes until they are tender, drain them, and then put them back on the hot burner to dry a bit. This won't work for those of you with gas stoves, but the pot usually is hot enough to dry them on its own.
3. Cook the bacon. You can do it in a pan, but I like this method from America's Test Kitchen: Preheat your oven to 400 and put your oven rack in the middle. Arrange the bacon on a rimmed baking sheet (the slices can overlap just slightly), and bake until crisp and brown, 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back halfway through. I find I like my bacon in a little longer. Save the bacon grease.
So here you are at the table with your pot of sauerkraut and kielbasa, your pot of potatoes, your plate of bacon, and your bowl with the bacon grease in it. Now what?
This is how I like to eat it. My kids, the deconstructionists, eat everything separate. I put some potatoes on my plate and I mash them up a bit with my fork. I put some sauerkraut on top and a kielbasa piece next to it. I take a piece or two of bacon and crumble it over the sauerkraut and then I top it all off with a spoonful of bacon grease. I usually salt and pepper too, but I don't think Aaron does. Then I mix everything together lightly to work that bacon grease throughout.
A magazine I was reading a while ago polled its staff about their favorite comfort foods. This is one of mine. I smell the sauerkraut and the bacon, and I know I'm about to enjoy something wonderful with fond memories of Opa. Aychamahockies. (That's what Opa said after the prayer and before we ate. I imagine it means bon appetit and I know it's spelled wrong.)