Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut


Pork and sauerkraut is a New Year's tradition in my wife's family. She remembers the tradition fondly.  Or at least, she does now.  When she was growing up, she wasn't a big fan.  (Sauerkraut?  Eeew!) Her grandma would always hound the kids to eat at least one strand of sauerkraut, "because it brings good luck in the new year". Needless to say, the grandkids weren't convinced.

I grew up loving sauerkraut; I have fond memories of hot dog carts in downtown Cleveland, dogs loaded with everything, where the highlight was the sauerkraut. My love of these hot dogs was a turn-off to Diane when we were dating; she couldn't believe I loved those "smelly dogs" so much. I was thrilled with her family's New Year's sauerkraut tradition. I had to work on Diane, thought; she ate her sauerkraut out of obligation, not because she wanted to. Eventually I was able to find some sauerkraut recipes that she didn't hate. In fact...she kind of likes this one.
*And! Now we I get to torture our kids with sauerkraut on New Years Eve. "Come on, kids, you have to eat one strand. Great Grandma Perchinske is watching you!"

Jackie, Diane's sister, is hosting our New Year's Eve celebration this year. (Thank you, Jackie!)  She asked me for a slow cooker pork and sauerkraut recipe, so I sprang into action in my test kitchen.* I loved the result; the key to this meal is the sauerkraut, and it is flavored with bacon, spices, apples, and wine.
*My test kitchen is more commonly known as Tuesday night dinner.

Want to guarantee good luck in the new year? Have some pork and sauerkraut! You can only have one strand if you have to. But I'll bet, once you taste it, that you'll have more than that.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut

Cook time: 8 hours

Equipment:
  • 6 quart or larger slow cooker (Crock Pot brand is fine, but I like my fancy one from All-Clad)

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz bacon, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 2 lbs sauerkraut, drained and rinsed (I prefer bagged sauerkraut)
  • 1 lb new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 apples, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 lbs pork western ribs or pork country ribs
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine (Riesling or other dry white wine)

Directions:
1. Brown the bacon: Put the bacon in a cold fry pan and turn the heat to medium.  Cook, rendering the bacon fat and turning occasionally, until the bacon is browned and crispy, about ten minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan, and dispose of the rest.

2. Prep and layer ingredients in the crock pot: While the bacon is browning: Drain and rinse the sauerkraut, and place in the bottom of the slow cooker crock in an even layer. Scrub the new potatoes and put them in a ring against the outside edge of the crock. Core and dice the apples, and put them in the middle of the potatoes. Sprinkle the brown sugar, thyme, coriander seeds, peppercorns, and bay leaves into the crock. Sprinkle the pork with 3 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground pepper, then layer on top of the other ingredients in the pot. Put the browned bacon in the pot whenever it is ready; in my case it wound up on top of the apples.

3. Saute the aromatics:When the bacon is done, add the diced onion, crushed garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt to the pan. Saute, scraping the browned bacon drippings into the onions. Cook until the onion is starting to brown around the edges, about five minutes. (While the onion is cooking, continue with the layering the ingredients step if it is not done yet.) Add the wine to the pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape any remaining browned bits from the bottom of the pan, then pour the onion/garlic/wine mixture into the crock over the top of the pork.

3. Slow cook the pork: Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours.

4. Plate and serve: Remove the pork ribs to a plate. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon, cut into quarters, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaves and throw them away.  Stir the ingredients left in the crock into the sauerkraut, then remove the sauerkraut to a serving platter using a slotted spoon. Ladle a cup or two of the liquid left in the crock over the sauerkraut, ribs and pork. Put the pork and potatoes on top of the platter of sauerkraut, and serve.

Variations:
*Pork Roast: Instead of the pork ribs, use a pork shoulder roast. Increase the cooking time to 10 hours on low or 5 hours on high.

*Add smoked sausage: If you have a pound of kielbasa or smoked sausage, slice it and add it on top of the apples. You'll have bacon, smoked sausage, pork ribs, and sauerkraut. What could be better?

*Use red wine instead of white wine: Red wine is common in German sauerkraut, so if that's all you have, go ahead and use it.

Notes:
*Riesling: Riesling comes in a wide variety of sweetness levels, from dry (no sweetness) to syrupy sweet (dessert wines). A dry to semi-sweet Riesling is my preference for this recipe. German Rieslings have their sweetness level as part of the name; look for halbtrocken (off-dry), or trocken (dry). Really, any inexpensive white wine that isn't too oaky will work. (Avoid cheap chardonnay, which tends to be very oaky.)

*Why a cheap white wine? Because about half a bottle goes into the slow cooker. I can't bring myself to cook the good stuff for hours. I save the good stuff to drink. If you're serving a crowd, get a cheap bottle for the pot, then some better wine of the same type for everyone to drink with the meal.

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Slow Cooker Pork Pot Roast

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17 comments:

Jen said...

We usually have pork and sauerkraut for dinner as well. My mom makes it really well. She is not going to make it this year because we have tickets to the Winter Classic tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Have a great new year!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Jen:

Thank you! The winter classic sounds so cool - I wish I could make it there myself.

Pam said...

Can I use beer instead of wine in this recipe?

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Pam:

Sure - I would stick to a "sweeter" beer with some flavor - avoid bland and/or bitter beers. See the Beer list from my Slow Cooker Turkey Thighs with Beer and onions recipe.

Unknown said...

This was wonderful! My 2 year old grandson and 3 year old granddaughter loved it, they dug in immediately and said "its goooood thank you mammaw". Everyone raved and said please make this every year. The only changes I made were that I used maple flavored bacon and I had a cup of red moscato wine and a half cup of chardonnay (I had these left over and my daughter said the chardonnay she had wasn't real oaky so I used them). Next time I will probably cut back on the brown sugar if I use the maple flavored bacon or just use regular bacon like you said to do. Anyway you look at it you can't seem to go wrong. Thanks for a wonderful New Years Day dinner! Linda

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Unknown:

You're welcome. Great substitutions, by the way - I'm glad you could take my recipe and run with it!

Ken said...

Hi Mike. I made this last night. A friend of ours brought some sauerkraut over that he made from cabbage he grew in his garden. It was excellent. We used a little over 3 lbs. of pork and could have eaten all of it at once--it was that good. But, we were good--licked our lips and divided what was left and put in the freezer for later.
I found your blog after googling "pork" and "sauerkraut". So glad I found your blog. You have some great recipes and can't wait to try some more.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thanks, Ken. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Diane Cooper said...

My husbands grandmother makes this, but not in the slowcooker. It is one of my favourites, and made me a sauerkraut convert!!! (Ironically I am Diane too, and I used to turn my nose up at the thought of sauer kraut!!) I am looking forward to trying this out in the slowcooker, since it seems like less prep work than my grandmothers....
Diane Cooper
diane7@rogers.com

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Good luck! I think you'll enjoy it.

Carol said...

My husband and I made this recipe when we were having friends over a couple months ago. Followed the recipe exactly except we didn't like the way the ribs looked so we used loin. Will definitely use ribs next time. But overall this was a great recipe will make it again and again. Thanks for sharing, Carol and John

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome!

How did the loin work out? I'm assuming it was dry?

Sarah said...

I just found your blog searching for pork and sauerkraut. I will definately try this recipe for the new year. I grew up with the pork and sauerkraut New Years tradition but haven't had it in years. I am looking forward to introducing it to my husband. And I am also excited that you are from my hometown, Akron, Ohio. I will be visiting your blog for additional recipes. Happy New Year!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Werner Oderwer said...

Just a comment: Brown, not to bitter, beer (not Irish!!) is much more common in the "Kraut" in Germany than red wine, try find a sweetish brown beer or use a local brown and add some brown sugar (table spoon per kilo Kraut) or even better, here in Quebec I always use a good shot of real Maple syrup....otherwise nice variation here.

Werner Oderwer said...

One more from Montreal: I always use for meat smoked sausage, polish sausage, smoked pork chops (Kassler) and smoked pork ribs as meat

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Good tips - thank you!

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