Using Up the Leftovers: Sauerkraut

Normally when I do a food/recipe post, I don’t pay much attention to practicality. I think about plausibility, but I don’t really worry about numbers of ingredients or cooking times. I figure that even if I find a particular recipe impractical, you might not.

Today, though, I’m trying to solve an actual problem: There’s a big jar of sauerkraut in the fridge, and I want to use it up. We got it last time we had hot dogs for dinner (can’t have a hot dog without sauerkraut, right?). But it’s a big jar and we don’t do hot dogs very often, so it’s likely to be sitting there for a while taking up space and laughing at us. So today’s challenge is to find four* recipes that we might actually prepare that use a significant amount of sauerkraut. Given our tastes, that not only means I need to keep an eye on ingredient lists and cooking times, but I also need to avoid recipes that involve several staples of sauerkraut cuisine: sausage, pork, and veal. And yes, it also rules out Reuben sandwiches. Cooking time? Well yeah, given that I’m lazy, it seems like a good idea to rule out anything that requires a lot of steps or a long period of active involvement.

* An semi-arbitrarily-selected number. It would probably be enough to enable us to finish the jar, while not requiring us to go totally sauerkraut-wild.

1. My first reaction on seeing BBQ Sauerkraut was “How do you keep it on the grill?” Turns out it’s a casserole. The ingredient list is OK: ground beef is safe, and there are no spices that we would only use for this dish. A cup of brown sugar seems a bit much, but could certainly be adjusted in future iterations. Cooking time is fine: mix ingredients, put it in the oven, and go do something else while it cooks. It’s not a hugely inspiring dish, but it fits the basic criteria.

1.1 Somewhat similar, but a little more inspiring is Texas Goulash. Stew beef wins over ground, and the recipe actually has some spice to it. Bell pepper is a negative, but it could be omitted without harming the integrity of the dish.

1.2 Mom’s Sauerkraut & Rice is another similar idea built around ground beef. Rice should be a nice variation, and the presence of actual spices is a big plus. Simple enough to prepare, but probably best for a day that doesn’t include a commute.

2. Krauted Chicken Parmesan. Now we’re getting into recipes that require some actual cooking. The sauerkraut isn’t totally integral to the dish: the recipe looks like it would work just as well as a non-krauted chicken parmesan, but that’s beside the point for this exercise. Looks tasty, the ingredient list isn’t outrageously long, and the preparation is straight-forward.

3. A totally different approach to chicken: Lemon Chicken Baked on a Bed of Sauerkraut. Despite the name, it’s actually a crockpot recipe. The only recipe I’ve seen that calls for ground red pepper, something else we have an overly-sufficient supply of, though I suppose a half-teaspoon isn’t going to cure that problem. (Update: we’ve made this dish several times since I wrote this post. If you’re interested in the tweaks we’ve made to the recipe, see this post.)

4. I liked the sound of Pickle Soup until I saw that it involves a ham hock. No pork, remember.

4.1 All is not lost in the soup department, though. Grandma’s Ukrainian Kapusta is a very straight-forward split pea and sauerkraut soup. Definitely a “do it ahead of time” dish, and it makes significantly more than we need, but it does supposedly freeze well. Worth considering sometime down the road, but probably not quite right for using up the leftover sauerkraut.

4.2 Here’s a dedicated crock pot recipe. Well, not so much a recipe as an ingredient list. Tender Beef Roast in Crockpot. It’s simple, uses all safe ingredients that we usually have on hand or can get easily, and takes no effort at all. Too bad it looks boring. Put it on the “maybe” list.

4.3 Pesto Sauerkraut Lasagna: are you kidding me? OK, it’s vegan and gluten-free, not that I care much about either of those, but any ingredient list that includes zucchini, pumpkin seeds, and arugula isn’t going to fly around here. Next!

4.4 I’m not real big on frying, other than the occasional craving for a couple of chunks of pan-fried chicken, but Potato Cakes with a Surprise Ingredient look like they might be worth adding to repertoire.

4.5 I like stuffed cabbage, but it definitely falls into the “more work than I want to go to” category. Sauerkraut Cabbage Roll Soup might just satisfy that particular taste with a bit less effort. I like the fact that it’s designed to use brown rice instead of white. Total cooking time is starting to reach into the “only on a weekend” range, but that’s a possibility.

OK, looks like I’ve got my four dishes, along with some alternate choices. And I didn’t even need to go the dessert route:

Thanks for following along!

6 thoughts on “Using Up the Leftovers: Sauerkraut

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