It’s long been a tradition in my family to gather together on New Year’s Day to eat pork and sauerkraut. When I was young, my grandma was the cook and the entire family packed into her house, cousins, uncles, aunts to help eat the roasters full of kraut that she made. I never liked it growing up, usually I’d eat the tiniest bit of sauerkraut and stuff myself with the delicious dumplings that topped it. It was a meal that had to be eaten on New Year’s day to ensure that the coming year would be a prosperous one.

When I was in college, the task of cooking the meal was passed down to my dad with my grandmother’s passing. We started gathering in our smaller family group instead of the big extended family. My dad would start cooking early in the morning and we’d enjoy the meal while watching the Rose Bowl Parade. This year, we had to call off the meal because of some illness in the family. Rather than risk not having the prosperity that this meal provides in the coming year, I decided to make it for us.

The kraut was made back in October and it’s been resting in the fridge for the past month. The pork was purchased from a local friend and set aside for this special occasion and was roasted in a hot oven for 30 minutes before going into the pot of kraut.

In case anyone wants my dad’s recipe, here it is:

Guaranteed prosperity in the new year

2 racks of pork spareribs (4 to 6 pounds of local pastured pork)
3 to 4 pounds of sauerkraut (preferably homemade)
4 finely chopped tart apples (about 2 cups)
4 finely chopped or shaved (with vegetable peeler) large carrots (about 2 cups)
3 cups of home canned tomato juice
1 cup of diced tomatoes
6 finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup of brown sugar
4 teaspoons of caraway seed

Cut ribs in pieces, season with salt and black pepper (approximately 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper); place in a large stock pot with olive oil and brown well. Combine the kraut (which can be rinsed to reduce production of gas) with remaining ingredients; spoon over ribs to mix thoroughly until well mixed.

Simmer covered for three hours at low heat making certain the liquid covers the kraut and ribs. Skim off excess fat. Then remove lid and allow the kraut to simmer until some liquid had simmered away, leaving top of kraut exposed. Then make dumplings and place on top of the kraut and over, allowing the dumplings to bake for about fifteen minutes. Makes approximately ten servings and will warm your house for days.

Fluffy Dumplings
2 cups of sifted all purpose flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of whole milk
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together and make certain the dry ingredients are well mixed. Add the milk and oil and kneed with pastry blender until moistened. Drop onto the kraut and cover. Do not lift cover and let mixture return to a slow boil for 12 to 15 minutes. This will make 10 generous dumplings.

This sauerkraut doesn’t taste like most kraut, you’ll find it much less assertive, even our small nieces and nephews like it. With the huge batch I made yesterday, we’ll be eating on it all week long. Looks like we should have a very prosperous 2012.

Do you have any traditional meals with special meaning?

13 Responses to Cooking up Some Prosperity

  1. Corrie says:

    We ate this same meal a few weeks ago. And I liked it for the first time in my life! Unlike most Pennsylvania Dutch, our family has always said you must eat pork and green peas on New Years Day. Even if you hated peas, you had to eat one. Another tradition we have is fastnacht– which is the day before Ash Wednesday, and you must eat a doughnut, or you’ll have bad luck. This will be my first year trying to find a gluten free doughnut. I think it’s funny to incorporate “luck” with faith, but I do love doughnuts!

    • Susy says:

      This sounds like a tradition Mr Chiots could get behind!

      • KimH says:

        The Polish here in NEOhio also eat a filled donut on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday.. call it Pączki, and pronounced Pootchke or Paatchke. This is one day of the year I’ve been known to eat them complete abandon. Unfortunately, I love donuts too but have gluten issues so they’re rarely a part of my diet, but I guess thats a good thing. 😉


  2. Misti says:

    Looks yummy! Might even induce me to eat meat again!

    We ate a can of black eyed peas which I mixed with some rice. My mom used to do them up right, with a ham hock and all the fixin’s but we were camping so I didn’t get a chance to do all that.

  3. Well, I obviously always (and I do mean ALWAYS, even when I have to settle for canned black eyed peas as I did this year–not bad, actually) make the southern pork, greens, and black eyed peas for health, wealth, and happiness, but I could be happy with pork and sauerkraut too. Except maybe the luck wouldn’t work for me, since I have southern roots.

  4. Kim says:

    I never thought of sauerkraut for the new year. Coming from the south, we have always done cole slaw or my mom makes the best cabbage rolls. This year I made my great grandmother’s slaw recipe and made fresh black eyes. Delish!!

    I hope the family illness is not too serious and that you will be able to return to your family gathering next year.

    Happy New Year!

  5. KimH says:

    Another Southerner eating Black Eye Peas & ham…

    Since Im from the south & Im always going to have black eye peas, m’honey said just make them & dont make anything else since our frig is bulging at the seams now.. Usually I’ll make a couple different meals to cover the Yankee’s and my family tradition. 😉

    For him, I’ll make a pork roast and sour kraut as well.. for me & mine, its always black eye peas & ham with an onion & pepper salad to spoon into the top of it.

    This year I was thrilled to find a smoked picnic ham which is technically a smoked pork shoulder that is boiled then baked. . Yummm..
    My grandma used to make these every year for all the holidays and its hard to find them up here, but I found a few from Smithfield at Giant Eagle this year. I think this is only the second time I’ve found them up here in Ohio but I keep looking 🙂

    Wishing you & yours (And all your readers too) a very blessed & happy New Year!

  6. Allison says:

    It is so interesting to see everyones ‘tradition’ of food in the new year. Ours is also Pork and Sauerkraut. My MIL does the dumplings in her kraut and until I met my husband, I never had the dumplings in the kraut before.

    I also heard recently that, I believe it was the greek, eat 7 grapes after midnight for good luck in the coming year.

    • Susy says:

      In Colombia they eat grapes too, and they wear yellow underwear, and they run around the block with a suitcase at midnight to ensure safe travels during the year!

  7. I have heard of back-eyed peas in the south, and also the kraut and pork. We have no New Year’s traditions. Up until my late 20’s or early 30’s the only tradition was to go out and party! This year I was asleep before midnight, but all the fireworks around us work me up. They were so bright out the back window I got up and enjoyed them. Maybe I will try the yellow underwear and a suitcase in one hand and kraut in the other next year. Happy New Year.

  8. Victoria says:

    We do black eyed peas, but this year we blitzed them with olive oil, goat cheese & paprika..both my husband & son couldn’t get enough. Bonus – we have plenty to take to lunch all week.

  9. It doesn’t sound superstitious AT ALL. LOL As I told you, it must be a Pennsylvania Dutch thing, b/c I had never heard of it until we came here.

  10. Grace says:

    I grew up on the border between PA and NY, just on the NY side. We were caught between two traditions there. The New Englanders have corned beef and cabbage for luck on New Years, but the Pennsylvania Dutch traditionally have roast pork and sauerkraut. We would make one or the other, according to our whims.

    As an adult, it has always been my practice to do one one year and the other the next. Now I live in the Deep South and am married to a southerner who loves both dishes. The traditional New Year’s feast down here includes collards and black-eyed peas. We eat collards all year long but neither of us care for the peas, so we still stick to the Yankee traditions, mostly.

    Thanks for reminding me to make dumplings on the pork and sauerkraut. I haven’t done that in donkey’s years, for no reason I can think of. I’m very much looking forward to having them again.

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