March 3, 2016

Pork Chops and Not Too Sauerkraut



My mom used to make the best pork chops and sauerkraut—it was my favorite dinner although I was kind of embarrassed to admit it. Sauerkraut was one of those foods like beans or egg salad or onions that made kids go ewww....

Once she sent me into the grocery store to pick up a can of kraut and I ran into a foxy boy from my high school who worked there. He asked me what I was looking for and when I told him he raised his cute little Scandinavian eyebrow ever so slightly and in that gesture I saw my attractiveness stock plummet.  My ardor for fermented cabbage remained but I had to take it underground for awhile surreptitiously tucking it in along the side of my bratwurst bun at barbecues. 

  

So I was so happy when I saw my beloved pork and kraut in Amy Thielen's cookbook (which I've raved about here before). She elevates it by adding white wine and spice. Those additions just make a good thing better. A key element in the dish is the sauerkraut and in this case, the can won't cut it. You want to look for fresher, crisper versions often sold in bags or refrigerated jars. The only ingredients should be cabbage and salt. It's milder, less sour and better tasting. You cook it all until the pork is fork tender and infused with the flavors of the cabbage, onions, wine and stock. You could probably add another chop without adding more sauerkraut but that's my favorite part so I like to make sure I have plenty. 


Homey and satisfying with a baked potato. 


Pork Chops and Sauerkraut


2 bone-in pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pat butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups sauerkraut with liquid
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Pinch thyme

Preheat oven to 325ยบ. 
Heat oil in oven proof saucepan over high heat. Generously salt and pepper chops and sear both sides, about 3 minutes per side until brown. Remove chops and set aside, then drain fat from pan. Put butter in hot pan, turn heat down to low and add onions and brown sugar. Cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Boil for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half. Add pork chops back in along with cabbage, bay leaf and thyme. Cover partially and put in oven for 3 hours until pork chops are fork tender and sauce is thick. 


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