Long live (sneaky) King Kraut!

Sept 25-SauerkrautSauerkraut. It’s the stuff dreams are made of- stinky, smelly, delicious dreams. If the pungent aroma of fermented cabbage makes your nose hair curl you might be consider skipping this particular Turning Ground column. This post is all about one of my favourite foods and while sauerkraut certainly enjoys a devoted fan base (there are an impressive amount of websites devoted to the dish) it’s not for everyone…or is it?

People claim not to like sauerkraut but maybe they just don’t like it straight out of the crock- uncut and pure. I decided to take sauerkraut naysayers to task a few weeks ago and secretly cooked with kraut.
A lovely baked apple gratin, hot out of the oven lay on the table for all the guests to ooh and ahh over. It featured local apples, caramelized onions and (it was hard to keep a straight face- sauerkraut- shhhhh). The crowd dug in. With baited breath I watched as everyone tucked into bite after bite of the stringy, saucy casserole. “I can’t believe they don’t know,” I marvelled as my guests unwittingly chewed on, entrenched in conversation, hardly noticing the subtle ‘je ne said quoi’ the kraut brought to the dish. Finally, I couldn’t contain myself any longer, “it’s got sauerkraut in it!” I blurted out, clapping my hands to my mouth. Everyone turned to look.
Significantly more timid I repeated myself. “The casserole…it…it’s got sauerkraut in it.”
Down the street a dog barked- it was the only sound besides the pounding of my anxious heart…And nobody spat it out. Nobody gagged. Nobody excused themselves from the table to dash to the bathroom. The meal continued much as it had done before my testimony. Sneaky sauerkraut hadn’t ruined dinner.
To me that is proof that everyone should eat sauerkraut. The king of cabbage! Long live King Kraut!

2 c. sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
6 c. apples peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp butter
1 c. onions, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. bread crumbs
3/4 c. chopped almonds

Toss apples, flour, honey and spices together and set aside. In a frying pan melt the butter and sauté the onions until they are soft (about 5 minutes). Add the drained sauerkraut and dry mustard and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In another bowl mix bread crumbs, almonds and cheese. In a buttered casserole dish cover the bottom with 1/2 of the apple mixture, then 1/2 of the sauerkraut mixture then 1/3 of the breadcrumb mixture. Repeat and then top with the rest of the breadcrumb mixture. Bake covered for 20 minutes and then uncovered another 20.

n.b. Try to control your giggling when you serve this dish- your guests might get suspicious.

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