Every now and then I crave sauerkraut, and it doesn’t have to be an artisan-style fermented quality; good old Steinfeld’s pickled cabbage is just fine with me. Perhaps it’s a strange and sudden precursor to St. Paddy’s Day, but I need my cabbage. The corned beef will just have to wait.
When this happened on a recent rainy day, I looked around to see what might work without a dash to the market. I always seem to have sausage odds and ends in the freezer, random unused portions from other projects. Lucky me, I came up with a nice sized link of kielbasa and a couple of bratwursts.
While the sausage defrosted, I heated up the Le Creuset pot and quickly sautéed an onion and a clove of garlic. In went a chopped carrot, a turnip, and some creamer potatoes, halved. The sausages were cut into chunks and tossed into the pot to pick up a little color. Once that happened, I added a cup or so of beef stock to deglaze the pot and create a broth.
For seasoning I dug out my jar of dried juniper berries that had shifted to an obscure corner of the spice cabinet from lack of use. There’s nothing like it, and it’s precisely for times like this that I am so happy for juniper berries. I do a quick sniff test and grab a few and drop them into the pot—love their resin-ish smell. A little rosemary, a bay leaf, and a few grinds of black pepper are added to the mix.
I rinsed and drained the sauerkraut. It’s not something I do without thinking twice, because it seems such a waste. But in this case, there’s a lot going on and it’s just as well to knock it down a notch. Into the pot it goes and it is all brought to a simmer; then it’s covered with a lid and left to simmer for 30 minutes.
Clearly this amalgamation is not totally Irish, but it is doesn’t matter. It does the trick and incredibly, and there’s more good news. Once the flavors blend overnight, the sauerkraut mellows a bit, and it is even better.
Root Vegetables and Mixed Sausage Stew with Sauerkraut
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed and in slivers
1 carrot, peeled, cut into chunks
1 turnip, peeled, cut into chunks
9 oz. creamer potatoes, cut in half if large
12 oz. kielbasa sausage, cut into chunks
8 oz. bratwurst, cut into chunks
1-2 cups beef stock, as needed
6-8 juniper berries
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper
16 oz. sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
In a heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. When aromatic, add the carrot, turnip, potatoes and toss well. Increase heat to medium high, add the sausages and lightly brown to take on color.
Deglaze with beef stock, add the seasonings, and the drained sauerkraut. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover for 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve in bowls. Serves 4.