Sausage, sauerkraut and potatoes is a wonderful example of winter comfort food. The meal does not take all day to cook. It can be ready to set on the table in a little over an hour. This is a traditional meal that came to the Americas with immigrants from Northern and Eastern Europe. This is one meal my Mom made often in winter during the 1940s and later.
The sausage and sauerkraut are cooked together and served alongside mashed or boiled potatoes. Many people top the mashed potatoes with the sauerkraut. Any smoked sausage can be used in this recipe. Franks or hot dogs are also good in it. The sauerkraut I used is the type that contains caraway seeds and is slightly sweeter than regular sauerkraut.
Historians believe the method for making sauerkraut came to Europe with Genghis Khan after he had invaded China. This method of preserving cabbage was very important before the days of refrigeration because sauerkraut provided a good source of nutrients during the cold months when fresh vegetables were seldom found and if they were the cost was high. Making sauerkraut gave people a way to preserve the cabbages they had grown in ther gardens during the summer so they could be used during the winter months.
The recipe will serve 2 to 4.
Sausage, Sauerkraut and Potatoes
- 1 package of smoked sausage or 1 package of franks or 1 package of hot dogs
- 1 to 2 cans of sauerkraut (about 1 can per 1 package of meat)
- 1 can of water for each can of sauerkraut
- Mashed potatoes, about 5 to 6 potatoes (or use instant mashed potatoes)
- Salt and black pepper
Empty the can or cans of sauerkraut into a large deep pan. Add 1 can of water per can of sauerkraut. Stir to break up the lumps of kraut. Put the sausage, franks or hot dogs on top of the kraut. Cover with the pan lid and cook over medium heat for 45 to 55 minutes. Check once in a while and add more water if needed. It usually isn’t.
Peel the potatoes, chop into fourths and put them into a large sauce pan. Cover with water at least 1 inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until a fork will easily pierce the potato. As soon as the potatoes are done drain them well and put the potatoes back into the hot pan. Shake over the hot burner for a few minutes to dry the potatoes. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Mash the potatoes using an old fashioned potato masher. Add whole or canned milk a bit at a time while whisking. Use a wire whisk or the metal potato masher to do this. Do NOT use a blender stick. You want mashed potatoes not soupy mush.
If you cooked a large smoked sausage cut it into four pieces before serving. Rye bread goes well with this meal.
Many good dishes use sauerkraut. You can put sauerkraut into a large roasting pan and mix in pork chops, pork ribs, sausages or any other cut of pork you want. Chunks of peeled raw potato can also be added or you can serve this with mashed or boiled potatoes. Some people put slices of bacon on top. Cover the pan and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Serve with slices of rye bread. If you did not add potatoes and don’t have mashed or boiled potatoes to serve with this you can serve it with dumplings.
If you use regular sauerkraut you can add thin slices of onion to it.
Sauerkraut can be mixed with mashed potatoes, onion and chopped cooked meat and used as a stuffing for pocket sandwiches.
Instant potatoes are wonderful to have on hand. They save money, they keep well, they take up less room, they are lighter to carry up stairs if you live in an apartment and they are almost as good as fresh. The best advice I can give is to ignore the directions on the package. For 2 servings use 1 3/4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch or 2 of black pepper. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1/4 cup of milk. Bring to a full boil. Remove the pan from the stove and add 1 cup of instant potatoes. Stir well, then pour a little more into the pan, stirring the entire time. Let it sit a couple minutes, stir and if it still is not thick enough add some more. In my opinion potatoes should be thick. You can greatly improve instant potatoes by adding a leftover bakes or boiled potato. Mash it and mix it into the prepared instant potatoes. You can also dress up plain mashed potatoes by adding any of the following; minced garlic, minced onions, sour cream, creamy salad dressing, fresh or dried herbs, sliced green onions, or chives. Some people mix sauerkraut into the mashed potatoes. You can also use instant mashed potatoes to make a quick creamy emergency potato soup.