Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday Recipe: New Year's Pork Roast and Sauerkraut

As anybody who grew up in Western Pennsyvlania knows, pork roast and sauerkraut are traditional New Year's Day foods and where I grew up, the population was so densely and predominantly Slovak, Polish and German, that we ate sauerkraut year round.

Now, everybody's family does their 'kraut differently. Some families like it super sour and others prefer it milder, almost sweet. So your mileage may vary on this.

My grandmother (the Scotch-Irish one, not the Italian one) leaned toward a richer version of 'kraut -- still a bit sour, but not sweet, rather just savory. I should say here that she was a great cook. I mean, truly great. And I think, in another place and time, with other opportunities, she might have made for a fine restaurant owner and cook. I'm not talking about opening a restaurant that serves foams and uses liquid nitrogen and the like, but a restaurant that makes just flat out delicious home cooking -- like the food you want to get at home, only better. This is my take on her sauerkraut (which she taught to my mother.)

As to the pork roast, I owe that to my friend the UConn fan. It is her grandmother's (Grandma H.) recipe. Again, I tweaked it just a wee touch.

This is a meal that is rib sticking and perfect food for long winter months. If the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl, I might even revisit it for that game.

You will need:
pork shoulder roast (a/k/a Boston butt) -- about 2 to 3 pounds
apple cider (non-alcoholic) 
beer (preferably a good malty beer)
6-12 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bag of sauerkraut
1 large yellow onion
1 to 2 teaspoons of beef base
Optional but tasty:  1 pound of good quality kielbassi (I only purchase kielbassi at S&D Deli in the Strip -- find yourself a good Polish Deli and get your kielbassi there. A supermarket version simply won't do.)

The prep:
For the pork:  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Now prep the pork -- nothing could be easier. Make about five or six slits with your knife tip on the meaty side of the pork roast. Jam halved garlic cloves in. Then flip the roast, make slits on the fatty side and jam halved garlic slices in there. I used about 8 cloves for my roast, but you can use more or less, depending on your tastes. Drizzle some olive oil into a baking dish (I used a glass cake dish) and put the pork in, fatty side up. Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and place into the oven for anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes. You want the meat to get nice and brown.

Add a splash of malty beer and a splash of apple cider to the pan, and cover tightly with foil. Return to the oven for another hour. Bear in mind, you can't really overcook this meat, so long as you keep it moist. So if you're going to leave it in longer, check it every hour and add beer and cider as needed.

When you're ready to serve, remove it from the pan and slice it on a large serving dish. Drizzle the pan juices liberally over the sliced pork.

For the Kraut:  Slice the yellow onion thinly into half moons. In a roasting pan, sautee the onions with a pinch of salt until translucent. This will just take a few minutes.

Place the sauerkraut into a strainer and rinse well. Move it around and make sure you rinse all of it. Turn the heat off the onions. Add the rinsed sauerkraut, about 1 cup of apple cider, about 1 cup of malty beer (I used Great Lakes Eliot Ness this year), and the beef base.

Cover and toss into the oven which is already humming along at 325 degrees. This can cook for hours and hours. After about 1 hour, add the kielbassi (I cut it into links about 3 inches long). Also, the sauerkraut should be very moist -- you don't want it to dry out -- so if it's looking a bit dry, add more beer and more cider. After another 45 minutes, it's done. But, as I said, so long as you keep it moist, it can go for a long time.

And have a šťastný nový rok (happy new year.)

1 comment:

  1. Jody, are you a Bitchin Kitchen fan? I think you'd love Nadia G!