Pork Chops and Sauerkraut

October 20, 2011

I was dying to try making my own sauerkraut after seeing Martha’s article on it in October Living. It sounded so easy! My mom remembers her German grandmother making homemade sauerkraut, which she kept in a crock on the kitchen counter. My mom says she just remembers it smelling awful. I wasn’t afraid (and mine actually did not smell at all).

To start you thinly slice up a head of cabbage and mix it with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds. You let it sit for about 5 minutes then you are supposed to squeeze the cabbage to release the juices. This was not easy! I kept squeezing and squeezing, and didn’t get much. Next you’re supposed to put it in a jar and cover it with a cabbage leaf and put a lid on it, opening it each day to let the air out. I decided to follow the method in a book I have, DIY Delicious, and instead covered the jar with a cloth attached with a rubber band. You were supposed to make sure the cabbage was covered in the liquid. It was, but barely. You leave it out on the counter for several days until it reaches the sourness you like. I left mine out for 5 days and it did not get very sour, but that was ok with me. (Next time I will let it sit a little longer, just to experiment with the level of sourness).

The problem I did have was that the liquids evaporated a bit and it grew kind of a white crust on top (which I scooped out) after a few days. I checked with some friends who said that was ok – and also that I probably should have added some water if the liquid went down (I’ll do that next time).

I put my jar in the fridge for a few days, then decided it was time to use it in a dish, so I came up with this hearty supper:

4 bone-in pork chops

1 small shallot, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

4 slices bread

3 corn muffins

salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cups sauerkraut

4 apples, cored

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Spray an 8×12 pan with cooking spray. Cut a deep, wide pocket in each chop. Rip up the bread and muffins and mix with shallot, garlic, sage, thyme, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add water until the stuffing is moist enough that it holds together. Stuff the chops and place them in the pan. Season them with salt and pepper.

Distribute the sauerkraut around and on the chops. Cut each apple into 4 slices and place on top of the chops. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours, or until the chops are completely cooked. Be sure to spoon some of the liquid from the pan onto your chop and stuffing when you serve it.

This was fantastic. First of all, the kraut. It wasn’t very sour at all, but it had a little bite. It tasted so much fresher and sweeter than kraut I’ve purchased in the past. I will definitely be making this again, particularly since you can keep it in the fridge for months. And this time I’ll add a little water.

The chops baked up very moist, which pork chops often do not do when they are baked. The kraut and apples added moisture and lots of flavor. The stuffing had interest because of the corn muffins. The apples were tender and pretty and tasted delicious with the chops and kraut.

This was the perfect fall meal! I want to make it again soon because I just could not get enough of it!


Chicken and Biscuits

October 12, 2011

I learned to make chicken and biscuits from my mom. It’s one of her favorite dinners. She learned from my grandmother. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it and come up with my own slightly enhanced version. Everyone in my family loves this and it’s a big deal when I make it (and there’s fighting over the biscuits). This is perfect for a Sunday night supper, with some green beans and a pie for dessert.

There are two methods for making this. Usually I start with the leftover carcass from a roast chicken, and thus feel extremely frugal. You can also start with a whole chicken. Either way, the result is fabulous.

1 chicken carcass from a roast chicken plus 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts OR 1 whole chicken

1 stalk of celery

4 baby carrots

salt and pepper

big pinch dried rosemary

big pinch dried thyme

pinch sage

12 baby carrots sliced

1/2 cup frozen peas

Wondra flour

salt and pepper

Place your chicken carcass in a big pot and cover it with water. If you’re using a cooked carcass plus breasts, don’t add the breasts yet. Put in the celery and 4 whole carrots, and add the herbs. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium, so it continues to boil. Allow to cook about an hour and a half, until the joints come apart and the broth is looking rich. If you have chicken breasts to add, this is the time to add them and cook another half hour (if you’re using a whole chicken, you want to cook for a total of 2 hours).

Strain the mixture, reserving liquid and pouring it back into the pot. Allow the chicken to cool in a bowl. Once it has cooled, break it up into small chunks and big shreds and add back into the pot. Add the sliced carrots and bring to a boil, cooking until the carrots are tender. Add the peas (it’s ok if they’re frozen). Keep the mix boiling. Start whisking in Wondra flour, starting with about 1/2 cup and adding more until you get to the consistency you like. I like mine to be very thick, like a very thick gravy. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Make the biscuits:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

baking soda

1/3 cup cold or frozen butter

2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425. Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, or if using frozen butter, grate it with a cheese cutter and then rub the mixture with your hands to incorporate. Gently stir in the buttermilk and use your hands to full incorporate. Pat it down to about 1 1/2 inches and cut with a biscuit cutter into 6 biscuits. Bake for 11 minutes.

Plan on 1-2 biscuits per person. Serve by cutting biscuits in half so you have two rounds, and spooning the chicken mixture on top.

Sometimes I add 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese to the biscuits to mix things up.

The chicken part of the recipe usually makes enough so that I can freeze the leftovers for another night, or feed a crowd and double the biscuit recipe.


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