Monday, March 25, 2013

Lacto-ferment! Sauerkraut, Sausage & Kale Bake

I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life. – Anatole France

A new-fashioned old-fashioned recipe!

Kale. The gift that keeps on giving, or so it seems. One bunch of the wondrous veggie has given me four (yes, four) meals. And that's for just a regular sized bunch of kale.

This is recipe number two.

That's pretty impressive. And none of it was just sitting in a green pile on the side of the plate. Each time it was "in" something. Kale is a very healthful vegetable. I write more about it here: Healthy, Hearty Beef & Kale Soup.

This time I'm making a bit of an interesting twist on a staple my mother makes: sauerkraut baked with sausages. It's always a dinner that's appreciated every time it makes an appearance. It's basic and homey.

This is my lacto-fermented sauerkraut. So much better
than what you buy.
Certainly not one to leave well enough alone, I set to work on those basics to transform the homey version into something with a bit more punch. Wine can do that to a meal.

I don't mean wine in a glass – although there's nothing wrong with an internal application. I mean steaming the sauerkraut, kale and sausages in wine, with two spices.

I am always amazed at how a few simple additions can transform a dish.

I have a confession to make. This dish should probably use an Oktoberfest or other similar sausage. I happened to have hot Italians. I took a gamble. They worked wonderfully. Perhaps better.

Steaming Italian sausages in wine is something that bears repeating – often. It actually changed their flavour significantly. It didn't do too much damage to the sauerkraut and kale either!

I used homemade lacto-fermented sauerkraut. Lacto-fermenting is a wonderful technique you can easily do at home to make vegetables last the whole winter. It's fun too. They do have to age a bit, but only about a month at minimum.

The lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances digestibility and makes nutrients more bio-available. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Lactobacilli also help colonize the digestive tract so any other foods we eat are of more benefit to us.

If you're interested in massaging some cabbage look here. If you wonder what I mean by massaging cabbage you'll have to go see. Then you'll understand. It's kind of therapeutic.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are a simple way to boost the nutrient content in meals. Many vegetables can be enhanced/preserved that way. Carrots, turnip, peppers, beans, kimchi (not strictly… and tons more. Do a google search.

I find that cabbage lacto preserved tastes better too.

Overall this meal is a winner, partly due to the cabbage, but also to the healthy kale. Wine doesn't hurt either...

All in all this is a low-work dinner to make. 
Sauerkraut, Sausage & Kale Bake
Prep: 10 min  |  Bake: 1 hr  |  Broil: 5 min  |  Serves 4
8 sausage links (or 2 per person)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped large
1 L sauerkraut, drained
4 cups chopped kale
1 to 1-1/2 cups white wine
1/2 tsp fennel seed
6 juniper berries
cracked black pepper
salt to taste (be careful – the sauerkraut may be salty)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other oven proof pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium high heat until the onions start to colour.

Drain the sauerkraut and add to the pot. Chop and add the kale. Then add the fennel, juniper berries and a good amount of cracked black pepper.

Mix everything well and then pour in the wine. Add 1 cup initially. (If the dish dries out as it bakes add the remaining 1/2 cup or some water.) Arrange the sausages on top.

Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Check periodically to ensure the pot doesn't dry out and burn.

After an hour, remove the cover and turn on the broiler. Broil until the sausages brown, about 5 minutes. This is for aesthetic purposes only.

Serve alone or with fluffy mashed potatoes on the side.


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