By Kim O'BrienChances are if you're reading this, you survived the supposed apocalypse slated for last Friday. But enough with the doom and gloom, and on to the Auld Lang Syne! From fireworks to midnight countdowns, New Year's is a holiday marked by tradition. Here in Lancaster County, PA (home to The WEBstaurant Store), we have a few New Year's rituals of our own. Perhaps the most famous Lancaster County custom is serving pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. This dish runs deep with Pennsylvania Dutch superstition: It is believed that pork brings good luck because pigs always rout forward with their snouts, signifying progress. Other Dutch folklore advises that you eat sour cabbage for a sweet year.
Below, our corporate chef Matt Schuler shares his annual pork and sauerkraut recipe (and its origins). “My mother has been cooking pork and kraut on New Year’s day since I was a kid,” said Schuler. “ I adapted her recipe over the years and have continued the tradition with my family.”
Good luck or not, this 5-step dish makes for a great annual dinner. Cheers to prosperity (and good luck) in 2013!
Pork n’ Kraut (Serves 6 to 8)
- 6 quart deep casserole dish or 6 quart or larger slow cooker
- 10” sauté pan
- 8 oz. bacon, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
- 2 lbs. sauerkraut, drained
- 1 lb. new potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 apples, cored and diced
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
- 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 lbs. pork country ribs
- 3 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups beer( preferably good brown Ale)
1. Brown the bacon: Put the bacon in a cold fry pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook, rendering the bacon fat and turning occasionally, until the bacon is browned and crispy, about ten minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave 2 tbsp. bacon fat in the pan, and dispose of the rest.
2. Prep and layer ingredients in the crock pot: While the bacon is browning: Drain and rinse the sauerkraut, and place in the bottom of the slow cooker crock or casserole dish in an even layer. Scrub the new potatoes and put them in a ring against the outside edge of the crock or casserole dish. Core and dice the apples, and put them in the middle of the potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar, thyme, caraway seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves into the crock or casserole dish. Sprinkle the pork with 3 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. ground pepper, then layer on top of the other ingredients in the pot. Put the browned bacon in the pot whenever it is ready; in my case it wound up on top of the apples.
3. Sauté the aromatics: When the bacon is done, add the diced onion, crushed garlic, and 1/2 tsp. salt to the pan. Sauté, scraping the browned bacon drippings into the onions. Cook until the onion is starting to brown around the edges, about five minutes. (While the onion is cooking, continue with the layering the ingredients step if it is not done yet.) Add the beer to the pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape any remaining browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then pour the onion/ garlic/ beer mixture into the crock or casserole dish over the top of the pork.
4. Slow cook the pork: Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours (preferred) or high heat for 4 hours. If using a casserole dish place covered dish in a preheated 300 degree oven for 5 hours.
5. Plate and serve: Remove the pork ribs to a plate. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon, cut into quarters, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and throw them away. Stir the ingredients left in the crock into the sauerkraut, then remove the sauerkraut to a serving platter using a slotted spoon. Ladle a cup or two of the liquid left in the crock over the sauerkraut, ribs and pork. Put the pork and potatoes on top of the platter of sauerkraut, and serve.
- Pork Roast: Instead of the pork ribs, use a 4 lb. pork shoulder roast. Increase the cooking time to 10 hours on low (or 5 hours on high) in a slow cooker or 6 hours in a 300 degree oven. Meat should be fall-off-the-bone tender when ready.
- Add smoked sausage: If you have a pound of kielbasa or smoked sausage, slice it and add it on top of the apples.