~ Sauerkraut Yesterday -- Sauerkraut Cakes Today ~
I'm feeling brave today. I'm going to share an intriguing recipe for sauerkraut that even some of you fermented-cabbage lovers might not know about: 'kraut cakes. These are the cabbage world's version of the potato pancake, and its cousin, the mashed potato cake -- recipes that hail from our Eastern European ancestors (necessity-driven, inventive cooks who knew how to stretch and transform leftover 'this or that' into a delicious new meal). Pair these up with some pan-fried kielbasa coins, a bit of brown mustard and/or a bowl of warm applesauce to the side and you've got a 30-minute-or-less, winner-winner, 'kraut-cake dinner. All you need is a couple of cups of leftover (a day or three is perfect), fully-cooked and seasoned sauerkraut.
Cooking sauerkraut is pretty straightforward. You can follow the instructions on the back of the bag if you like (I never buy canned sauerkraut), or, if you have a favorite recipe for sauerkraut, feel free to use it. This is my easy, all-purpose method for doing it, and, I hope you'll agree that the slightly-buttery taste of my 'kraut is just what every self-respecting 'kraut cake needs!
2 pound bag fresh sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained (about 10 minutes prior to cooking)
6 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup diced yellow or sweet onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
~Step 1. In 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt butter over low heat. Add onion, pepper and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and saute until onion is translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add sauerkraut along with 1/4 cup water. Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, lowering heat as needed to prevent scorching, until 'kraut is tender, 15 minutes. Turn heat off, cover, and allow to steep on hot stovetop, 15 more minutes.
Note: This will yield 3 cups of cooked sauerkraut. If you are using my buttery sauerkraut to make this recipe (and I hope you do because it is foolproof), refrigerate it overnight.
2 or 3 cups cooked sauerkraut, refrigerated overnight and returned to room temperature
2 or 3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 or 3/4 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut on an angle into 1/2"-thick slices
~Step 2. In a medium bowl, place the sauerkraut. Using a fork, beat the eggs and thoroughly incorporate them into the 'kraut. Two tablespoons at a time, throughly incorporate the flour. Set the pasty mixture aside for 10-15 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb any excess moisture.
~ Step 3. In a 16" electric skillet, heat a thin coating of vegetable oil to 250 degrees. Using a 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, place six level scoops of 'kraut mixture into the pan. After 30-45 seconds, using your fingertips, flatten balls into 6 or 9, 3"-round, 1/2"-thick discs.
~ Step 4. Increase the skillet's heat to 275 degrees and saute until 'kraut cakes are nicely golden on both sides, using a spatula to turn them only once, about 4-4 1/2 minutes per side. Don't rush it. Using the spatula, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Do not turn the skillet heat off. While the sauerkraut cakes are sauteing, slice the kielbasa as directed. Add the sliced kielbasa to the hot oil. Saute, stirring almost constantly, cook until slices are golden on both sides, about 3 total minutes. The entire cooking process will take a short 11-12 minutes.
~ Step 5. Transfer the browned kielbasa to the plate with the sauerkraut cakes. Serve ASAP with chilled or warmed applesauce to the side. Just because I like Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard with my kielbasa, I add that to this delicious 'kraut & kielbasa meal too.
Be brave -- live dangerously -- serve 'Kraut Cakes & Kielbasa:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; colander; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/lid; large spoon; 1-cup measuring container; 4-cup food storage container w/lid; electric skillet; 2 1/4" ice-cream scoop; spatula; paper towels
Cook's Note: I make a "mean" potato pancake too, and, just like I enjoy eating kielbasa with my sauerkraut cakes, every once in a while, I enjoy adding diced ham to my potato pancakes. You can find my recipe for ~ Leftover Ham? Pass the Ham & Potato Pancakes ~ in Category 9. While great for dinner, they're fantastic served for breakfast with maple syrup!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)