When it came time to discuss what we would be having for our Christmas dinner, my husband knew immediately that he wanted šķovēti kāposti, which is braised sauerkraut. I couldn't remember if I had had it at any of the restaurants or at my mother-in-law's house, so I was a little unsure of just what would happen to sauerkraut when cooked for a long time.
As it turns out, it becomes really, really good. The cooking process eliminates all the things I don't like about fresh sauerkraut - namely the sharp bite and crunchy texture. Now, don't get me wrong, I like sauerkraut but I love braised sauerkraut.
The thing about this dish is that while it's good fresh off the stove, it's one of those dishes that can really benefit from an overnight stay in the fridge. I really enjoyed it for dinner but it was even better at lunch the next day with some leftover potatoes.
Šķovēti kāposti can easily be converted to vegan - just use your favorite oil and sweetener instead of bacon fat, butter or honey.
Šķovēti Kāposti - Braised Sauerkraut [printable recipe]
Adapted from Latvian National Cuisine
- 2 lb sauerkraut, drained
- 1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- up to 1/4 cup honey or sugar (any variety)
- salt, pepper
- 2 tbsp oil, butter or bacon fat
In a large, deep saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook onion, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn, until lightly brown. Add the drained sauerkraut and cook, stirring frequently, until the sauerkraut begins to darken. (If you use a stainless steel pan, you will find that a layer of dark brown fond forms on the bottom of the pan. This is what you're looking for.)
Add enough water to cover the sauerkraut, scraping up any bits or layers at the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Check periodically and add more water as it is absorbed, much like a risotto. Cook for 2 to 3 hours. The sauerkraut should be uniformly brown and tender.
Stir in the grated carrot. Add honey a tablespoon at a time, tasting after stirring. It shouldn't be strongly sour, but with light overtones of sweet. The honey is intended to remove some of the "bite". Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, uncovered, adding water as necessary, until carrot is tender and blends nicely into the sauerkraut mixture, about 20 - 40 minutes more.
Recommended to serve with boiled potatoes and savory meat dishes.