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:
SPECTACULAR SPARERIBS AND INCREDIBLE KRAUT
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.
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?