I first posted this a couple of years ago and received rave reviews. This is a traditional German New Years dish that is said to bring good fortune when enjoyed during the celebration of the turn of the calendar. Part of my ancestry is German, and I suspect that this was passed down from that side of the family for several generations.
Although there are hundreds of spare ribs and sauerkraut recipes, this one is so easy and tasty that you’ll want to make it often. It doesn’t have to be New Year’s. In fact, Artificially Sweetened has declared that it should be part of her regular rotation. That’s because it’s so easy that its production is almost effortless. All you need are a few food ingredients (aside from the obvious ones) and a crock pot, or slow-cooker, if you prefer.
First, a legal disclaimer. Being Jewish, what the hell do I know about pork? If you’re a landsman and you make this decidedly un-Kosher recipe, recipe maker (hereinafter referred to as sinful cooker) will hold this turkey harmless from all damages arising out of lightning bolts, both directed and incidental, force majeure, and/or excommunication from Judaism (hereinafter referred to as the Tribe). Turkey will be further held harmless from damages resulting from incidental trichinosis, E. coli, Bubonic plague, leprosy, Ebola Zaire or any other infections associated with ingestion of that treyf “other white meat” they try to scare us about when we’re kids.
Now, directly to the recipe. Get yourself a rack of St. Louis spare ribs (don’t use baby back ribs). I don’t know what they call St. Louis spare ribs in St. Louis. (You know, like in the east, what we call a “western omelet” is called a “Denver omelet” in the west, but I digress.) Other ingredients you’ll need are a Granny Smith apple (other breeds get too mushy when they’re cooked for any length of time), a yellow onion, a pound of sauerkraut, and a teaspoon of caraway seeds.
First, wash the spare ribs and pat dry. Cut them into pieces that will fit into your crock pot broadside, as they’ll be layered with the other ingredients. Now season the spare ribs with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides in a heavy pan. While you’re doing this, wash and drain the sauerkraut. That’ll make it less acidic. Cut the onion in half and slice it. Using an apple slicer/corer (or just a paring knife, if you don’t have one of these handy devices, core and cut the apple into 6 or 8 wedges. (This is not a critical measurement.)
Once all the ribs are browned, you’re ready for final assembly. First lay a bed of the drained sauerkraut on the bottom of the crock pot. Add a couple of the apple wedges and some of the sliced onion, enough to create a nice cushion for the next layer, which will be enough ribs to cover the kraut, apple, and onion layer. Then cover this layer of ribs with the next layer of kraut, apple, and onion, and continue layering like this until you’ve exhausted all ingredients and filled the crock pot. Then add a teaspoon of caraway seeds and a cup of water. Turn the crock pot on “LOW” and let it cook for eight hours, plus or minus. This will feed four Jewish sinners or even regular people.
As an alternative to the cup of water, you can try dry white wine or even ale. Experimentation is desirable.
None of the measurements are critical, so feel free to increase or decrease quantities to feed your army. Also, if you don’t have a slow cooker, I believe it will work fine in a Dutch oven over very low heat.
Serve with mashed potatoes, as in the picture. For an extra special dose of mashed potatoes, add finely chopped caramelized onions, sautéed finely chopped garlic, and cream to your mashed potatoes. But don’t add balsamic vinegar like I did once, or you’ll be serving unappetizingly brown mashed potatoes.
I’m hoping that I’m not violating any laws (other than kashrut) by propagating this recipe. I wouldn’t put it past this current Federal administration to require anyone passing on a recipe to include four pages of nutritional information, serving sizes, etc., like they want to require us to do background checks on our relatives when we give them guns. Schmucks! (End of political rant.)
If you’re Jewish, a Faraday shield might be helpful, but otherwise, enjoy!