Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Estonian Christmas Recipes: Sauerkraut Braised in Beer

Õllekapsas ehk õlles hautatud hapukapsas. Sauerkraut braised in dark beer.

Sauerkraut is another must-have ingredient on our Christmas table - a lovely side-dish to all those fatty chunks of roast pork and crackling black sausages. Here's an adaptation of an earlier recipe of mine - more beer, fewer ingredients, less hassle. Still as wonderful, however, if not better - the porter beer (I use A Le Coq Christmas Porter) and brown sugar give such a lovely, slightly caramelised flavour to the cabbage.

Traditional wisdom says that you need something fatty and greasy to give a proper flavour to sauerkraut (and many of our traditional dishes indeed combine sauerkraut with fatty pork cuts). I constantly - and very successfully - ignore that wisdom. I often replace fresh cabbage with sauerkraut in my meatless and virtually fat-free borscht, to no loss of flavour. And although this beer-braised sauerkraut contains just a hint of butter, my lighter and more modern version has received praises on my Christmas table for the last few years. I doubt anyone has missed the traditional sauerkraut instead..

You'll find 'fresh' sauerkraut in Eastern European stores. Failing that, use sauerkraut in a jar (try to look for one with added salt only; rinse before using), and shorten the cooking time a little.

Beer-Braised Sauerkraut
(Õlles hautatud hapukapsas)
Serves 12 as a side dish

1 kg fresh sauerkraut
100 grams of soft brown sugar or honey
1-2 tsp salt
500 ml porter or other dark strong beer
a generous pinch of caraway seeds
50 grams butter

Put all ingredients in a large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Simmer, stirring every now and then, until the cabbage is golden and softened. This takes about an hour.

Keeps in a fridge for a week (just reheat before serving).

This recipe was also included in my second cookbook, Jõulud kodus ("Christmas at Home"), published in Estonian in November 2011.


Chibog in Chief said...

i am not familiar with estonian dishes, thanks for sharing this recipe! pork braised on beer is always good..specialy when you eat it the next day after reheating it!!:-) im wondring if your black sausages are same as what we call in france as the "boudoin noir" the blood sausagues??

lobstersquad said...

there´s no way on earth I can find fresh sauerkraut here. Do you advise rinsing the bottled stuff, or using it straight away as it is? I love sweet/sour cabbage dishes, but am always stumped by sauerkraut

Anonymous said...

Pille, suur tänu selle retsepti ülespanemise eest. Oligi juba mure, mismoodi neid kapsid teha, sest rasvast sealiha lihunikul enam ei olnud ja ega mulle pekised kapsad ei meeldi ka.
Rõõmsaid jõule!

Anonymous said...

Ma ei ole kunagi ise hapukapsaid valmistanud, aga ma võib-olla pean seda retsepti proovima! Mulle meeldib kasutada õlut keetmises :-).

Annemarie said...

I love sauerkraut - there's something about its vinegary flavor that gets my tastebuds tingling and mouth salivating. I need to have a jar of it in the fridge at all times; I know that makes me a little odd. Have never thought of doing my own, but the addition of beer would make even the husband a fan!

Maarja said...

eelmisel aastal tegin neid õllega kapsaid ja seeaasta tuleb kordus.

John Menzies said...

Nice, but when is the promised Christmas tiramisu coming?

Anonymous said...

Pille, peaksid välismaalaste jaoks ikka ilusa postituse verivorstidest pohla-õunamoosiga ka üles panema.

Helene said...

I just made "choucroute"! Sauerkraut with different cuts of pork,but unlike my mother and grandmother I lightened it up a bit. I don't know why I have to have sauerkraut during the holidays, it is comfort food for me!

Katie Zeller said...

I love sauerkraut. When we lived in Andorra (I know, strange) I could get an excellent German sauerkraut. Here, of course, I only get the French Choucroute. I'm trying your recipe, anyway. Sounds delish!

Krentu said...

Aitäh selle retsepti eest! Tegin neid kapsaid ja nad on tõesti imelised! Osutusid suureks jõululaua hitiks! Ma panin natuke vähem suhkrut ja osa suhkrust asendasin tumeda suhkruga.
Kas Sa oled proovinud Uus-Kongo talu kapsaid? Väga head mu meelest ja väga mõnusasti peenikeseks riivitud.

Pille said...

Dhanggit – pork braised in beer (or beef in beer, for that matter), as well as sauerkraut in beer all improve when left to stand overnight. I think our boudin noir and our verivorst (literally, blood sausage) are pretty similar (I guess the spicing is a bit different, and we use more barley groats in the filling).

Lobstersquad – I’d rinse the bottled stuff first, dear Ximena. And avoid those sauerkraut jars with added vinegar – you want just the salt and cabbage version!

Ülle – see on hea retsept, usu mind! Poolakate poest peaksid leidma ka head hapukapsast (vaakumpakendis nt). Rõõmsaid jõule on juba hilja soovida, aga Happy Hogmanay siis:)

Marika – see on hea lihtne retsept, nii et proovi aga!

Alpa – thanks for popping by.

Annemarie – so, did you manage to convert your hubby?

Mann – no vot, on ju hea retsept!

John – well, time-shortage is keeping me from posting the recipe. But just take your usual tiramisu recipe and replace the ladyfinger biscuits with thin gingerbread ones :)

Anon. – ma panin Flickrisse verivorsti pildi üles, ehk leiavad sealt :)

Tartelette – it’s definitely a holiday dish here, as it’s so heartwarming and simple to make..

Katie – so what’s the difference between German sauerkraut and French choucroute? The preparation processes seem to be pretty similar, no?

Krentu – ma oma ema käest juba kuulsin, et Su ema seda ka seda kapsast tegi ja kiitis. Me sõime kodus tänavu hautatud punast kapsast hane kõrvale, aga vanaema juurde peole võtsin õllekapsast kaasa ja eeloleval laupäeval telliti ka mu õllekapsast ühele peole.. Huvitav on see, et nt Maarja lisas kapsale suhkrut. Eks see tõesti oleneb kapsast..
Ja Uus-Kongo kapsaga olen täiesti kursis, see mu lemmik ka. Hästi ilus peenelt riivitud kapsas ja turult saab veel mõnusalt mahedat versiooni..

Mikaela de Ville said...

Thank you for this recipe. I have my father here in London this Christmas, and he was a bit appauled by the idea of having "german saurkraut" with the verivorst (which we smuggled in from Sweden! :)). I am simmering it now and the smell is familiar and will make everyone very pleased tomorrow!
Merry Christmas!

Pille said...

Great, Mikaela! We served this cabbage on Christmas eve again, and it was universally well received!