Saturday, January 21, 2012

Herr Swengler's Kraut

Aventius Doppelbock, Binkert's Bavarian Bratwurst and Herr Swengler's Kraut.

One thing I know for sure after a week touring across Germany is that I don't know anything at all about German food. Sure, the sausage are ubiquitous and the Nurnberger sausage is the precursor to the American breakfast sausage link, but other than SigSauer and sauerkraut, I know nothing except that I enjoyed the food of Germany.

Knowing this, Dai San brought me back some of Herr Swengler's (his dad) homemade sauerkraut to try. This was the real deal. The homemade stuff and none of that nonsense you find in canned jars at the grocery store. Fermented and salty, he said. Beware.

Simmering in the mix.

The directions were simple enough: simmer bratwurst (though I could use kielbasa), sauerkraut and dark beer in a pot until the sausage is cooked through then eat over steamed rice (Dai San is half-Japanese and half-German - or Whole Axis), this of course, appeals to my Filipino side - and I was going to add rice anyway...

While I do have some lovely Ostrowski's Polish Kielbasa at home, a proper German sauerkraut needs a proper German sausage, causing me to trek out to Binkert's German Sausage where I think they only begrudgingly speak English, are unabashed about their meats and they don't accept credit cards - NEIN DU DUMMKOPF!!! Or something to that effect.

A stop off to see Austin at the wine shop and a bottle of Aventius Doppelbock and we're off to the races. A little browning of the sausage to begin with (though you don't have to), several ounces of doppelbock for the pot (and more for myself), Herr Swengler's sauerkraut and just let it simmer.

A simple meal for a cold evening.

One blog post and thirty minutes later, the mix is ready to eat. With rice. Of course.

Pulling a sample from the pot and the sauerkraut is a beast. The texture is firm and slightly crunchy (unlike other krauts I've tried) with a mellow flavor, slight sourness and in your face saltiness. Like I said, it's a Beast. This is sauerkraut, you know it and it's unrelenting.

The white rice helps tone down the salt and the Diet Coke's acid cuts it like a knife. Large spoonfuls of sauerkraut are rewarded with a lovely flavor, just before a mouth-smashing punch of salt. Add a slice of the sausage into the mix and you're rewarded with strong notes of garlic, black pepper and pork to balance out the kraut saltiness on the neutral rice canvas.

Not a bad way to stay in on a cold Saturday night.