09. April 2012 · Comments Off on One Pan Wurst Supper · Categories: Domestic

One of my oldest best-used cookbooks is Barbara Swain’s Cookery for 1 or 2, which I bought about the time I moved from the military barracks into my own teensy apartment. I may have bought it before I moved out, since I was always cooking my own meals in the barracks kitchen. The hours that I worked prevented me from eating at the dining hall – and food there at best was institutional.  The great thing about the cookbook was that every recipe was scaled for exactly one or two servings. The pound-cake recipe made a tiny 3 x 7 inch loaf of butter cake; the carrot cake recipe made exactly half a dozen cupcakes. Everything was perfectly scaled, simply prepared and made from fresh ingredients … and I am fairly sure that when I bought my now-battered copy, it was one of just a few ‘cooking for one or two’ cookbooks on the market.

And since I’ve written The Adelsverein Trilogy, and getting involved in so many ethnic German activities, we have begun to have a deep appreciation for excellent sausages, like those from Granzin’s Meat Market in New Braunfels … and for the many delightful ways to cook cabbage. My English Granny Dodie prepared it by lightly steaming chopped cabbage until it was just barely cooked, then tossing it with melted butter, cracked pepper and bits of crumbled bacon. I don’t know where she picked up this delicious heresy; the traditional English way of cooking cabbage is to boil it to death for many hours.

But the traditional German way is to make sauerkraut out of it; basically, salted and pickled – the way to make a green vegetable last through the dark months of a northern winter – and so I have come to explore the many faces of red and green cabbage. In Cookery for 1 of 2 there is one recipe for a one-pan wurst and sauerkraut dinner, which I adapted a little, by adding two quartered red potatoes, which essentially cooks your complete dinner in a single covered pan.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil, bacon drippings, or render one thin slice of salt-pork cut in small dice, in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot (or the salt-pork rendered) add ¼ cup minced onion and sauté until tender.  Add 1 8-oz. can or 1 cup of well-drained sauerkraut,  2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1/3 cup of dry white wine, beer, water – or (my addition) homemade chicken or vegetable broth, 1/8 teaspoon salt,  ¼ caraway seeds and a twist of fresh-ground black pepper. The original recipe says to cover and simmer for half an hour, then add 4 wieners or 2 knackwursts and simmer for another fifteen minutes. For my version, I add two or four smoked brats – it depends on the size of the brats and if they have been frozen – and two red potatoes, cut in quarters, cover and simmer the whole shebang for half and hour to forty minutes. The potatoes should be done, the sausages cooked through and the broth reduced and absorbed into the vegetables. Serve with a bit of whole-grain mustard on the side, and a salad of fresh garden greens. Total Teutonic bliss achieved … and only one cooking pot to wash. Yep, it doesn’t get much better than this … not until I start to make home-made sauerkraut…

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