Pork braised in sauerkraut for New Years is an old Pennsylvania Dutch / German immigrant tradition especially up around Ohio and Pennsylvania (where I’m originally from). The hog represents prosperity, always foraging only forward, and the green of the cabbage represents wealth. I remember it fondly growing up.
Though it would be a shame to only cook this on that one day of the year! The cut of meat is inexpensive and there’s just something about the house-filling smell and anticipation of an hours-long slow braise. (You know how much I like one pot meals!)
I’m using a pork shoulder (or pork butt), about two-and-one-half pounds, for the three of us this year. It’s from the local butcher and already reasonably well-trimmed. If you start with good ingredients, the best you can reasonably afford, cooking great food gets so much easier.
The sauerkraut is made by a local family company who use only cabbage, salt, and water. It is one of our treasured food discoveries and I cook with it a lot during the year. If you can find a fresh sauerkraut like this in your local grocery, or even perhaps at a farmers market, you should try it. The important point is to find one you like. Yes, I know I could make my own, but when I can get it this good at a reasonable price? Nah.
A bit of caraway seed, a little diced onion, and some brown sugar. Keeping it simple.
Take your pork out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before you start cooking to let it come to room temperature. Pat it dry with a paper towel and then sprinkle the salt and pepper all over it.
Then I put my dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat and add a glug of oil to just coat the bottom of the pot. Sear the meat well on all sides, about five minutes per side, to add to the flavor. Remove it from the pot to a plate and set that aside for just a minute.
If your sauerkraut has a lot of liquid, you can use just that to deglaze your pot (you know, get the stuck-on brown bits loose). If needed, add enough water so you have about a cup of liquid total in the pot.
Then add the sauerkraut, caraway seed, diced onion, and brown sugar and stir well. Rest the meat on top of this, cover the pot, and into a 300°F oven for a couple hours.
Once done, the meat should have an internal temperature of at least 150°F (as measured in the center with an instant read thermometer) and be tender enough to shred with a fork.
I served mine with German potato pancakes (kartoffelpuffer — I really must remember to show you how I make these), apple sauce, and good brown bread. It we’re feeding a crowd that day, which can happen on New Years, I might also put out a plate of bratwurst and a simple salad. Maybe even some strudel.
I do hope you’ll give this a try. And if you do, remember to post a picture and tag us #suppertimeblues. I’d love to see it!
Sauerkraut-braised Pork Shoulder
Pork braised in sauerkraut for New Years is an old German family tradition. The slow-cooked, house-filling smell, and inexpensive ingredients come together like magic. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 2 - 2.5 pound pork shoulder, trimmed
- 1 glug oil
- 24 oz sauerkraut
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Let pork warm to room temperature at least half an hour before starting to cook.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Pat meat dry with a paper towel then sprinkle all over with the salt and pepper.
Add oil to coat the bottom of a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the meat on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the pot from heat and set the meat aside on a plate.
Using the liquid from the sauerkraut, plus enough water to equal one cup of liquid total, deglaze the pot using a spoon to loosen the stuck-on brown bits.
Combine the sauerkraut, diced onion, brown sugar, and caraway seed in the pot and stir well.
Rest the seared meat on top of this, cover the pot, and into the 300°F oven for about two hours. The internal temperature of the meat once done should be at least 150°F and the meat should be tender.
Slice thin to serve. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sauerkraut.
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