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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let's Hear it for the Braise

Yes, it's still winter.  And yes, it's still cold.  And yes, that means it's still braising weather.

But, here's the thing.  I've had enough braised beef and chicken to last me lifetime.  In fact, as delicious as coq au vin is, the thought of it is, well, uninspiring at this moment.  But I do love braised meats, and they are definitely not summertime food.   I feel like I have to sneak in a couple of more meals before the  temperature rises.

As I mentioned yesterday, I just bought Mark Peel's cookbook New Classic Family Dinners, and so far it's shaping up to be a real winner.  I always know I'm going to love a cookbook when I can page through and get excited about making a bunch of different recipes.  That's the case with this book.  I am actually looking forward to dinner for weeks to come because I can try out some of these recipes.

As I was perusing Peel's cookbook, I came across a recipe for braised sausages and sauerkraut.  This is food guaranteed to make Ted happy.  He loves all that German pub food.  Maybe it's because he likes German beer so much.  For years he has been anxious to go to Munich just so he can sit in beer gardens and drink beer and eat sausages.  He is getting his wish this fall when Charlie will be studying abroad in Berlin.  Needless to say, Ted is already planning a trip.

But back to the sausage.  This recipe sounded seriously good so I dashed out to pick up some kraut and some sausage.  Now, if you're not a pork person, never fear.  I think this recipe would be equally delicious with chicken or turkey sausage.  So, read on.

Like all braised recipes, this one takes a bit of time.  The sauerkraut has to braise for about an hour and the sausages for about a half hour.  But it's time well spent.  Steam some potatoes, which are the perfect side dish, and crack open a beer.  Just make sure it's German.

Recipe:  Sausages Braised in Beer with Sauerkraut
(New Classic Family Dinners, 2009)



1 quart sauerkraut, drained
1 medium onion, cut in half, then sliced crosswise
1 tart apple, peeled, quartered, cored, then thinly sliced crosswise
2 cups dry white wine
6 lightly crushed juniper berries, 2 whole cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, tied in a piece of cheesecloth


1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
1`/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 whole cloves
7 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup dark beer
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds sausage

Whole grain mustard and steamed potatoes, for serving

Combine all the sauerkraut ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour, until the apple is very soft and the liquid in the pot has evaporated.

In another saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and the salt.  Cook gently until tender, about 5 minutes, add the cloves, juniper berries, and fennel seeds.  Cook, stirring for a few more minutes.  Add the beer and the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.

Pierce the sauces in several places with the tip of a knife and add the the simmering beer mixture.  Bring back to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer gently until the sausages are cooked, about 30 minutes for large sausages.

Distribute the sauerkraut among 4 bowls.  Top with a serving of sausages and drizzle on juice from the pan.  Serve with whole grain mustard and steamed potatoes on the side.

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