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~ Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut ~

IMG_7226This is my father's family's recipe for sauerkraut, and as Eastern Europeans, sauerkraut wasn't reserved for ringing in the New Year -- we ate it all year long.  The only thing that could improve upon the recipe would be my grandfather's home-fermented 'kraut -- which, as a young child, I remember being kept in a large, wooden, lidded barrel sitting in the corner of his dark, cool, earthen-floored basement, which I also remember being a somewhat scary place.  In the family's vegetable garden, they grew their cabbage.  In a small barn, next to the vegetable garden and also a scary place, were three or four large slaw cutters, which, once the cabbage got harvested, were used by members of the family-of-seven to make short work of the shredding process.

Butter beans & mushrooms in sauerkraut?  You betcha! 

In my family, my father picked mushrooms in the Spring, then my mother cleaned, blanched and froze them in small packages.  Amongst other things (like scrambled eggs and mushrooms for breakfast), she always added mushrooms to sauerkraut along with a can of butter beans, which neutralized some of the sauer in the 'kraut.  It is a very filling, stick-to-the-ribs combination, and it might even sound a bit odd a first too, but, it is sigh-oh-my, truly delicious.  Served with some PA Deutsch-style buttered noodles and some form of porcine (ham, sausage, roast, chops, steaks), the complete meal is fit for a king.  While this side-dish is quick to make (5-10 minutes of prep and 45-50 minutes of simmer time), it is almost better to prepare it the day before you plan to serve it, to allow the flavors to marry -- simply reheat it gently on stovetop or in microwave.  

IMG_70942  pounds fresh sauerkraut, thoroughly drained for about 10 minutes

2  15-ounce cans butter beans, well-drained, liquid reserved (about 2 generous cups)

8  ounces diced yellow or sweet onion (about 2 cups)

3  4-ounce cans sliced mushrooms, well-drained (about 2 cups)

6  ounces salted butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1 1/2  teaspoons Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

1 1/2  teaspoons Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Pepper

1/2  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

IMG_7097 IMG_7097 IMG_7097 IMG_7097 IMG_7097 IMG_7097~Step 1. Drain the sauerkraut, beans and mushrooms as directed, then dice the onion.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides, melt butter over low heat.  Stir in Jane's seasonings and the black pepper.  Add the onion and increase heat to medium-, medium-high, and sauté/simmer until softened, about 5-6 minutes.

IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114 IMG_7114~Step 2.  Add sauerkraut, beans and mushrooms.  Stir.  Add about half the reserved sauce/liquid from the beans and stir again.  Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and cook, stirring regularly, 20-25 minutes.  Add and stir in the remainder of the sauce/liquid from the beans, stir, and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, 20-25 more minutes -- the point of adding the liquid in two increments is to sauté the mixture in a scant amount sauce, not boil it in a lot of liquid, which gives the beans the time they need to absorb the excess moisture.  Remove pan from heat, cover and allow to sauerkraut time to steep, so flavors can marry, about 30-60+ minutes.

Serve in bowls or a large bowl as a side-serving...

IMG_7228... or layer it between pork blade steak & buttered noodles:

IMG_7214Slovak-Style Butter-Bean & Mushroom Sauerkraut:  Recipe yields  2 quarts/8 cups sauerkraut.

Special Equipment List:  colander; cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8e4ec5c970bCook's Note:  Another side-dish that often made it's way onto our family's table was ~ Pea, Carrot & Potato Salad Olivier ~.  It too was made with ingredients grown in the garden. Also known as "Salad Olivier" or "Salad Olivye", and, "Russian Salad", there are as many variations of it as there are cooks willing to take the time to do a precise job of uniformly cubing and dicing the components. For young girls, who were required to assist their mother in the kitchen, it was how they honed their knife skills for life in their own kitchens (while the father was teaching the boys to fish, hunt, gather and/or farm).

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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