SAUERKRAUT CLAY POT WITH PORK AND SAUSAGES
Cooking food in clay pot requires almost no liquid, yet the result will be moist and succulent, the pot retaining the full flavour of the food.
Use a type of clay pot similar to the pots of the famous Römertopf brand.
800 - 1000 g fresh, unpasteurised sauerkraut
500 g fresh kassler pork in thick slices
200 g bratwurst sausages
2 medium apples
2 medium onions
about 200 ml (or less) water
about 1 tbsp apple wine vinegar
Completely immerse the lid and the bottom part of your clay pot in cold water and soak them for about 2 hours, or 30 minutes at the minimum, if you are in a hurry. (Study the instructions of your pot, they may vary according to the type.)
Taste the sauerkraut. If it tastes very acidic, briefly soak or rinse it under cold, running water. Do not soak for too long, or the flavour will be lost. Strain the cabbage and squeeze it dry. Slowly sauté it in butter until most of the moisture has evaporated and the cabbage has softened and coloured slightly. Set aside.
Note: you can also use the sauerkraut "raw", without sautéeing it, but sautéeing will enhance and soften the flavour. In many countries (like eg Germany) sauerkraut is often sold readily cooked, for example simmered with white wine and added spices and other ingredients, like bacon, etc. This type of sauerkraut can be used without sautéeing it first.
Cut the kassler slices in smaller chunks and brown them lightly in their own fat. If they are not fatty enough, use a little butter or neutral tasting oil. Peel the onions and cut them in large chunks vertically. Brown the onions briefly on high heat in the kassler fat or butter left in the pan.
Peel the apples (unless they are organically grown) and cut in chunks vertically. Remove the core and the seeds.
Layer the sauerkraut, kassler pieces, onion and apple chunks inside the bottom of the soaked clay pot, starting and ending with the cabbage (see the picture on left). Sprinkle some pepper (and salt) between the layers.
Drizzle a generous layer of molasses on the surface of the ingredients. Mix the water with the vinegar and pour over the ingredients. Close the pot with the soaked lid and place it in a cold oven. If inserted in a preheated oven, the pot may break.
Set the temperature of the oven to 225 °C and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the bratwursts in about 3 to 4 centimetres long pieces.
Remove the lid, (watch out for the hot steam rising from the pot), place the sausages on top of the other ingredients and bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the sausages are nicely browned (see the picture on right).
Serve with fresh tomato salad and some good bread and butter. In addition, you can serve boiled potatoes or potato puree.