Sauerkraut for Autumn, Braised with
Apple and served with Bratwurst
Sauerkraut is the traditional way plentiful summer cabbage
was preserved for eating in winter in the old days in Central and Northern
Europe when few fresh vegetables were available. Unbeknownst to those eating
sauerkraut back then, essential Vitamin C was preserved along with the cabbage,
and probably prevented a lot of scurvy in those populations.
|Sauerkraut and Bratwurst, Parsleyed Potatoes|
Cooking that pickled cabbage with smoked ham or sausage, and
brightening it with ingredients like apples was a way to enjoy summer produce
when the weather had turned cold. The cooking methods for garnished sauerkraut are
numerous in Germany, German-speaking areas of Switzerland, and the Alsace
region of France. Often some smoked pork, such as a knuckle or chunk of ham, is
simmered in with the kraut, and sausage is added at the end.
Here is an Oktoberfest apple-braised sauerkraut with bratwursts
cooked in at the end. The sauerkraut in October would have been recently made
and relatively mild in flavor. Bratwurst sausages, typically made of pork
and/or veal and white to very light tan in color, are originally from Bavaria,
the home of Oktoberfest. Good imported Bavarian bratwurst are available from
Trader Joes. I also like Johnsonville Beer Brats, made in Wisconsin, the
American Bratwurst heartland, which are available at supermarkets. I prefer
cooking a white wine into sauerkraut Rhineland style, though in Bavaria cooking
the kraut cooked with beer would be more common.
The sausage and kraut can be eaten as a snack – with bread
and beer as in southern Germany. Or the dish can be served with boiled potatoes
or noodles if making a meal of it. Accompany with good mustard, or my favorite
sauce made from equal quantities of Dijon mustard and sour creamplus a touch of
horseradish. A Pilsner or lager beer pairs traditionally with this dish, but
chilled white wine such as a fairly dry Riesling or a Grüner Veltliner does
The recipe serves 4-6 people.
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons sunflower or other non-olive vegetable oil
1 medium apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and
1 (14-ounce) jar or can shredded sauerkraut, juice squeezed
1/2 cup white wine (or lager beer)
3/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 juniper berries (optional)
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
14-16 ounces bratwurst or smoked sausage, cut in 2-inch
Salt, if needed
In stainless steel or enamel pot, fry onion lightly in 3
tablespoons oil until softened. Add apple. Fry several minutes, stirring
frequently. Add drained sauerkraut, and stir and fry 2 minutes.
Add wine and seasonings. Simmer, covered but stirring
frequently, until sauerkraut and apple pieces are becoming tender, adding a
little water only if dry. Taste and add a little salt if needed. Add the
bratwurst or smoked sausage and simmer, covered but stirring frequently, until
sausage is fully heated. Taste for salt once more, and add a little if needed.
Serve alone as a snack, or as dinner accompanied by boiled
or steamed small potatoes or buttered noodles. The condiment is mustard, such
as brown or horseradish mustard (not the bright yellow American hotdog mustard),
or a sauce of Dijon mustard mixed with an equal amount of sour cream and a
small amount of horseradish.