COVID-19 and its variants are following us into 2022, so invite good luck into your new year. For the Pennsylvania Dutch, that means pork and sauerkraut, which is good luck because pigs root around with their snouts in a forward motion. (You always want to move forward, not backward in life, of course.) Sauerkraut is made with cabbage, which is considered lucky because it’s green just like money.
It is also a household tradition on my husband’s German side of the family to serve pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. A tradition I couldn’t quite get jiggy with when we first started dating twenty-plus years ago; however, I am now a huge convert. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
This year the plan was to host a small NYD dinner party, thus the large piece of meat. Unfortunately, all of those folks came down with COVID a few days prior and were under quarantine, so it was just the two of us… I guess we didn’t start the good luck process early enough?
One minor switcharoo we made this time was using some hard cider brewed by son Daniel instead of the beer, lending a slight apple taste to the dish. Along with garlicky mashed potatoes, our other side was Whiskey-Glazed Carrots.
The Hubs made sure the COVID crew got part of the good luck meal too. He drove over all of the leftovers the following day. Paying it forward. See, their good luck has already started…
Russ's Braised Pork and Sauerkraut
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, ground finely
- 1 bone-in or boneless pork shoulder, 5-6 lbs.
- 3 large onions, peeled and sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 4 lbs. sauerkraut, drained
- 2 bottles amber beer
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 stalk rosemary
- 6 stems thyme, tied in a bunch
- 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
- 6 juniper berries (optional), lightly crushed
- Olive oil
- At least 8, or preferably 24 hours before cooking the pork, combine the first five ingredients and rub all of over the pork. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap, place on a plate and refrigerate. Remove meat from refrigerator and allow to warm at room temperature about an hour before you plan to cook it.
- Make a bouquet garni with the peppercorns and the juniper berries (if using them) and set aside. Be sure to double or triple the cheesecloth.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high flame until shimmering. Unwrap the pork shoulder and brown on all sides, about 15-20 minutes. Remove meat from pot and set on plate while you complete the next steps.
- Add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté until they be come translucent. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for about one minute. Add the drained sauerkraut, then the 2 bottles of beer. Mix everything together well, making sure to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaves, thyme, sprig of rosemary and the bouquet garni. Mix well again with the sauerkraut and onions.
- Return the pork shoulder to the pot, nestling it into the sauerkraut. Place a sheet or parchment or aluminum foil over the pot, then put on the lid, ensuring that it fits tightly. Place the pot in the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours. Turn the roast, then return it to the oven for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is very tender and falls apart easily.
- To serve, remove the pork shoulder from the pot to a platter to carve. Remove the bay leaves, rosemary sprig, thyme and bouquet garni and discard. Give the sauerkraut mixture a good stir and serve with the pork.