Today's baked sauerkraut is for all our foodies who are specific in their tastes and jump in without much fuss, only to find themselves enamored with a new delicacy they just discovered. Does this describe you?
Recently, while browsing a food forum, I discovered a woman who was wondering the same thing as me. What should one do with fermented cabbage heads left over from the past winter's fermented batch?
Although mine was by no means large, there was still cabbage I needed to use up before the spring arrived.
One recommendation was to slice the cabbage and freeze for later. A great option. (Like me, she knows Sarajevo weather is fickle and before long there will be a day full of rain, when only comfort food will do.) But I liked the second option better.
Baked sauerkraut. That famous, and not much attempted delicacy.
Baked sauerkraut is an integral part of Balkan side dishes. Come winter, there won't be a holiday that doesn't showcase a version of it on the dining tables across the region. While the meat is chosen based on religious preferences, this recipe today is a classic one. The cabbage is shredded and then baked on the fat of the meat that surrounds it.
Let your appetite be the guide to what extent you want to bake it. I prefer it barely underdone, but you can keep it in for a little bit longer for a crunchier, darker version.
A word of warning. This is a dish aimed at foodies who like sour and hearty things. It's by no means a light dish. For example, you wouldn't eat it and then go for a jog.
Taste is not in question here. Baked sauerkraut has overtones of slight sourness, and as it's baked with different meats (I like to mix it with bacon and smoked beef), it inevitably picks up these aromas and presents them together. When combined, these flavors amount to an explosion of taste.
The flavors that give it its specificity also make it a strong dish. It's heavy. And filling. So filling in fact, that you should make your main meal a lighter one. Something fluffy like mashed potatoes. Or rice.
- 1 fermented cabbage head
- 10-12 ounces cured meats prosciutto, bacon and/or smoked beef
- Peppercorn one handful
- Taste the cabbage to see whether it's overly salty. If it is, wash it for a few minutes. When ready, slice into strips. Heat oven to 480°F.
- Cut the meat into larger chunks and layer in a slightly oiled baking pan. Cover meat with cabbage strips. Sprinkle generously with peppercorn. Cover pan with foil and prick a few holes with a toothpick. Transfer into oven and bake 5 minutes, and then lower to 390°F.
- Bake for 1 hour.