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4.24.2012

Sauerkraut and Sausage: An easy real food makeover

Real Food Sauerkraut and Sausage with Dumplings.

I really hope my mom is secure about her cooking.  And I realize I am an ungrateful child for making fun of her as much as I do (usually not on this blog, so don't feel left of if you've never heard me say anything about her cooking before...). 
So, to assuage my guilt and hopefully make her feel appreciated I am going to begin this post by saying that my mom is a great inspiration.  She raised us on almost only healthy food in the midst of a society that pushed convenience, low fat, high carb, easy meals.  We mostly ate whole grains.  We always had veggies AND salad with our dinner.  We ate almost exclusively local, farm raised meat (beef from us, chickens from her chicken guy... our pork was spottier, sometimes local, sometimes grocery store, but still...).  She didn't keep much processed foods in the house much, and our treats were usually home baked goodies (because if you're gonna eat junk, home baked junk is at least made with love instead of preservatives!).

I don't ever say my mom is a BAD cook.  I am notorious, however, for saying she is a mediocre cook.  This is simply because among the ways we differ (and there are lots of them) is that she likes consistency and I am always striving to improve things.  She makes the exact same 10 or 20 recipes now that she made when I was a kid.  She makes them the same way.  And that's great.  People love her cooking.  Even I, her biggest critic, rave over lots of it- she makes the BEST fried chicken with gravy, the BEST gooey homemade pizza, and I can never have enough of her homemade lasagna (especially leftover!).  Interestingly enough (as an aside, because this has nothing to do with anything) my mom was one of a very small percentage of her generation who had Italian food growing up as a non-Italian.  I can't remember where she said he learned to do it, but her dad made homemade marinara and would make them pizza and pasta dishes that were rare outside of large cities back then.  I just find than interesting... anyway. 

I, on the other hand, am never satisfied.  There are only two or three recipes I make that I feel are so good they don't need to be changed.  I may use the same recipe several times, but I usually change things in an attempt to add more flavor, better consistency, better texture, more color... I actually kind of wish I could just be happy with 20 or 30 recipes and settle into a routine.  Planning would be so much easier!

But there are ways I would improve the health of meals my mom served us.  I share these with her now, as I learn (she loves to hear it insert sarcastic eye roll here) because, well, I want my parents to be around forever.  No one can know everything.  I don't pretend to (hush mom), and there is no way she could have had access to all the information I have now when I was growing up.  My point- she did a great job feeding us.  Much better than other parents of that day (she also breast fed all of us for a year with the exception of my baby sister because of extenuating circumstances and generally is a hippy and just not aware it).

One of the meals that took a very simple makeover to improve was one of our family favorites- Sauerkraut and Sausage.

Another interesting and irrelevant aside- we aren't German, so this is an unusual family recipe for us.  But my dad spent some time in Germany while he was in the Army and apparently he loved the food (because what's not to love!).  As a result there was regular consumption of sauerkraut at my house.  In contrast, my husband's family is 99.9% German and they don't like it at all.  Anyway...

My Mom's Recipe for Sauerkraut and Sausage with Dumplings
Ingredients: 
  • One large can Frank's Kraut
  • Two packages Hillshire Farms (or similar) smoked sausage
  • 2 cups bisquick
  • 3/4 cup milk
(see method at end for directions for both recipes)

Brandi's Sauerkraut and Sausage with Dumplings
Ingredients:
  •  2 lbs. local grassfed smoked pork sausage
  • 1 quart homemade lactofermented sauerkraut
  • 2 cups white whole wheat (or regular whole wheat) flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 T. cold butter
  • 3/4 cup cultured buttermilk (plus more if needed)
Method:

Cut sausage into desired lengths- I usually just cut the longer rope into two or three large pieces, but you can cut them however you like.  Place them in a large, preferably cast iron, skillet.  Pour sauerkraut, juice and all, over top of the sausage and spread until it is fully covered, like this:

 Turn heat on medium high an bring to a simmer.

While sausage is heating, mix up dumplings:  For the first (don't do it, Bisquick is a scam!) just mix the Bisquick and milk.  For my much better recipe ;) mix the flour, salt, and baking soda.  Cut in the butter, as you would for making biscuits.  Stir in the buttermilk.  See how easy that is?  Bisquick is a scam!

Anyway... once the sausage and kraut is simmering drop spoonfuls of the dumplings on top of the sauerkraut, trying to get full coverage.  Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then cover and cook another 10 minutes.

Eat and enjoy!

This recipe has been shared on Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Carnival and Beyond the Peel's Whole Food Wednesday.

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