With the Holiday (Labor Day) this week, I was hoping for some better meat prices; maybe my expectations are way out of whack. I did like the price on the brats, $3.88 for five, but I don’t think anyone in the Midwest needs a recipe for those, even if Bobby Flay was “wowed” by a contestant cooking beer brats on last season’s “Next FoodNetwork Star.” I’d serve them with a fresh potato salad made with the baby potatoes on sale this week.
I felt like more of a challenge, though, for my Bargain Meal of the Week, $5.00, more or less. With the cool weather nipping in at night, I can’t help but think about the sausages – specifically Braised Sausage with Sauerkraut! And on sale: Hillshire Farms Smoked Sausage, $1.00 for a package – they’ll be beautiful simmered in a bed of delicate sauerkraut. I’ll serve them with the baby potatoes, boiled this time and roughly mashed with just a touch of butter and a tad bit of milk. If you’ve never had Sauerkraut served this way, it’s mild, beautifully flavored, and you’ll be very surprised - and what it does to the flavor of the sausage is just unbelievable! My son told me “This is what sausage SHOULD taste like.” I came in slightly over budget for the cost of the meal: $5.01, more the meal but I’m happy with it!
Recipe: Braised Sausage and Sauerkraut, 4 Servings
- 1 package of sauerkraut
- 1/4 pound of bacon, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pound sausage, cut on diagonal
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced vertically
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon of pickling spice (may omit if you don’t have on hand)
- 1/2 head of garlic, cut crosswise, cloves intact; if you don’t have whole garlic, use two or three chopped cloves.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- Whole grain or Dijon style mustard for serving.
Preheat oven to 325. In a non reactive Dutch oven, cook bacon till crisp and brown sausage pieces, cut on the diagonal, at the same time. Remove bacon and sausage. Add in the onion and cook till translucent and softening. Add a little butter if there are not enough drippings.
In the meantime, put sauerkraut in a colander and give a quick rinse. Be careful to just rinse quickly, or you will lose all the flavor – just enough so the water comes out the bottom, then drain, pressing out most of the liquid. Add to pan with onions.
Use a small bit of cheesecloth to make a bundle of the herbs and spices, or if you don’t have cheesecloth, a small bit of flimsy fabric. Nestle in Dutch Oven. If you aren’t concerned about picking out the spices, just dump them in.
Sprinkle sugar over the top of the sauerkraut, and pour in chicken stock. You should be able to see it just peeping through the sauerkraut. (The top should be dry, the liquid level should be about 1/2 inch lower than the top. Add a little water if necessary.) Nestle in the sausage and sprinkle the top with the bacon and any accumulated drippings. Cover and bake about an hour to an hour and a half, checking at around an hour. The bottom should be nearly dry.
Serve with mustards above, and “smashed” baby potatoes.
Money & Time Saving Strategies:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
- Sauerkraut: I bought Frank’s in the two pound bag. I do think the bagged is a higher quality, and well worth it, but by all means, used canned if that’s all there is in your area. Cost: $2.09
- Sausage: The Hillshire Farms sausages were on sale this week, $3.00 each. I liked Hillshire Farms on facebook for one dollar off coupon, used it at Rainbow on Wednesday and got two dollars off. Meat total: $1.00
- Bacon – I bought Corn King, $2.50 a pound and stored in my freezer, I took it out of the package and sliced it top to bottom, using about the 1/4 of the pack. Put the rest in a Ziploc to use for BLT’s. Cost: $.62
- Onion - Usually cheap this time of year, on sale for $.33 a pound; I used two for about $.14
- Stock – I make mine out of scrap chicken pieces and leftover vegetable cuttings, and freeze in ziplock, so I don’t count a cost.
- Sugar and spices: negligible.
- Potatoes: $2.89 for five pounds; you could always use russets which are dirt cheap now, but the reds are so good. I use about two pounds for four people. Cost: $1.16.
Nutrition: (Not including mustards or potatoes) I was frankly a little surprised when I read the amount of fat in the recipe – why, I don’t know, considering all the sausage and bacon, but every once in a while you have to splurge. I certainly wouldn’t be serving this every day, at any rate.
Per Serving: 640 Calories; 49g Fat (69.3% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 105mg Cholesterol; 400 mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 7 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.
Put your own spin on it:
- If you’re feeling flush, you can add lots of different meats; cook the sauerkraut with ham hocks, add in smoked pork chops, or regular pork chops that you’ve browned with the sausage, or a variety of different sausages.
- Try leaving out the pickling spice and adding a 1/2 teaspoon of caraway seeds.
- This is wonderful if you add a little amber or dark beer in place of one cup of the chicken stock, or you could add in a bit of apple cider or apple juice. Omit the sugar if using the apple juice.
My Payoff – A hearty, warming preview to fall, without all the raking!
Recipe for Braised Sausage and Sauerkraut made September 2011
- Four Ways with Sauerkraut (nourishingresults.com)
- Sausage Recipes, Cooking With Sausage & Sausage Ideas (williams-sonoma.com)
- How to prepare a Wisconsin brat fry in your backyard (seattletimes.nwsource.com)