From the Kitchen : New Year’s Pork & Kraut

I cannot recall having pork and sauerkraut for dinner on New Year’s, but it was a meal my husband grew up with. Family tradition. It’s good luck or something, right?

As a new wife, I was happy to incorporate new traditions and attempt my hand at this oddly delicious combination of foods. The problem? I’d never eaten it, let alone cooked it.

My first attempt was decent, considering. A bit soggy as it had cooked all day in the slow cooker. The second attempt? Far too sweet with the addition of apples, brown sugar and apple cider. This year? By George, I think I’ve got it.

Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes and Sauerkraut  with Apple
Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes and Sauerkraut with Apple

It was a last minute idea to photograph the process and final meal so forgive the blandness of the images. Side note: quite difficult to photograph this type of dish and have it look appealing.

It was savory, with sweet notes and just salty enough. The meat was tender and well seasoned, though it could have used a touch more searing all around.

My recipe?

Wing it.

As always.

The exception, is that this time I kept tally of what all I tossed in the pot:

  • 3 lb. bag small cooking onions, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1.25 lb pork tenderloin (more if feeding more)
  • 2-32oz bagged sauerkraut
  • 1/2 medium granny smith apple, sliced very thin
  • 1 tsp caraway seed
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. On the stove, heat large cast iron Dutch Oven to medium-high heat, adding a drizzle of olive oil in the bottom to coat. (I use my Le Creuset enamel coated beauty)
  3. Generously coat pork tenderloin with salt and pepper, making sure to rub and press it into the meat.
  4. Sear the tenderloin on all sides, until golden brown. About 1-2 minutes each side. Remove from pan, set aside and turn heat to medium.20140101-goodluckporkdinner-2566
  5. Add butter to pan and let melt slightly before tossing in onions, stirring to coat in butter and any remaining oil.
  6. Step away from the pot.
  7. Return every 8-15 minutes to stir and step away.
  8. Repeat stirring and stepping away until you reach your desired caramel color/flavor of onion. I let mine cook down to a translucent white with brown edges (about 30 minutes). Mmmm.

    Caramelize the onions to taste.
    Caramelize the onions to taste.
  9. Add the apple slices and stir to coat with caramelized goodness.

    Add apple slices to onions and stir.
    Add apple slices to onions and stir.
  10. Add the bagged sauerkraut, brine and all, to the pot to deglaze the pan. Stir well and add caraway seeds.

    Add sauerkraut to deglaze pan, then add caraway seeds and bay leaf.
    Add sauerkraut to deglaze pan, then add caraway seeds and bay leaf.
  11. Create a well in the mixture, plop in a bay leaf and carefully rest the tenderloin back into the pan. Don’t submerge it fully into the mixture.
    Create a small well for tenderloin to rest in without submerging it.
    Create a small well for tenderloin to rest in without submerging it.

    Put the lid on the Dutch Oven and place into preheated oven for about 1 hour or until pork is done to your taste. I’m paranoid about pork so it gets cooked to at least 165-170 F. Still turns out wonderful.

  12. While the pork cooks, I chopped up potatoes, boiled them and mashed away. Use your recipe of choice for this.
  13. When the pork is cooked to desired temperature, remove from sauerkraut mixture and let it rest under some foil for a few minutes.
  14. I returned the pot to the stove on medium-high heat and reduced the mixture down a bit, for a thicker sauce.
  15. Serve.

This made enough meat for three and enough sauerkraut for twelve. I personally like leftover sauerkraut and have another tenderloin to grill up for another dinner.

So there you have it. A 90 minute dinner, photographed and written down, albeit sloppily. I promise any further attempts to photograph my dinner adventures will be planned out in advance, photographed in a well lit area and written as I go.

What will I revise on the next go?

  1. Sear meat for a bit longer & at higher heat for better crust.
  2. Use less sauerkraut or add more pork.
  3. Deglaze with a nice white wine and use drained sauerkraut.
  4. Add sage?

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