Rabu, 19 Desember 2007

Estonian Christmas Recipes: Sauerkraut Braised in Beer

Õllekapsas ehk õlles hautatud hapukapsas. Sauerkraut braised in dark beer.

Sauerkraut is another must-have ingredient on our Christmas table - a lovely side-dish to all those fatty chunks of roast pork and crackling black sausages. Here's an adaptation of an earlier recipe of mine - more beer, fewer ingredients, less hassle. Still as wonderful, however, if not better - the porter beer (I use A Le Coq Christmas Porter) and brown sugar give such a lovely, slightly caramelised flavour to the cabbage.

Traditional wisdom says that you need something fatty and greasy to give a proper flavour to sauerkraut (and many of our traditional dishes indeed combine sauerkraut with fatty pork cuts). I constantly - and very successfully - ignore that wisdom. I often replace fresh cabbage with sauerkraut in my meatless and virtually fat-free borscht, to no loss of flavour. And although this beer-braised sauerkraut contains just a hint of butter, my lighter and more modern version has received praises on my Christmas table for the last few years. I doubt anyone has missed the traditional sauerkraut instead..

You'll find 'fresh' sauerkraut in Eastern European stores. Failing that, use sauerkraut in a jar (try to look for one with added salt only; rinse before using), and shorten the cooking time a little.

Beer-Braised Sauerkraut
(Õlles hautatud hapukapsas)
Serves 12 as a side dish

1 kg fresh sauerkraut
100 grams of soft brown sugar or honey
1-2 tsp salt
500 ml porter or other dark strong beer
a generous pinch of caraway seeds
50 grams butter

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Simmer, stirring every now and then, until the cabbage is golden and softened. This takes about an hour.

Keeps in a fridge for a week (just reheat before serving).

This recipe was also included in my second cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.