Caramelized Sauerkraut with Prunes, Herbs, and Honey

By • January 18, 2013 27 Comments

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Author Notes: When I was little, I hated sauerkraut; eating it was absolute punishment. Unfortunately, my family made a lot of it, especially during the long winters when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. Every time I made a face at the sauerkraut, my dad would tell the story of Admiral Nelson and how he used to carry sauerkraut on his ships to fight scurvy. Then, over the years, I warmed up to it. In my mind, sauerkraut evokes the flavors of something sweet to fight its sometimes harsh acidity. It calls for herbs and garlic. A touch of caramel from long baking in the oven. When I feel really indulgent, it calls for bacon. And that is how I arrived at this dish. (I did not include bacon in the recipe below, but it can be a great addition.)

Note that the sauerkraut needs to sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before serving, so do plan ahead.
QueenSashy

Food52 Review: This is the kind of dish Bert Greene or Julia Child would have made: ingredients that rarely shine on their own are turned into something bold, yet luxurious and comforting. Caramelizing sauerkraut renders it viscous and sweet, and the fresh thyme and prunes mellow it further. You can make the whole dish ahead of time, making it a perfect choice for cold weather dinner parties. The melange of sour and sweet is a reward for the adventurous palate.
I needed a much longer cooking time, but that may just have been my sauerkraut. This is a wonderful recipe. However, I wouldn't recommend it as a winner for the honey contest, if only because the honey seems to add more texture than flavor here; the taste of the honey is overwhelmed by the onion, prune and (of course) sauerkraut.
epicharis

Serves 8-10

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 pounds sauerkraut, rinsed
  • 8 garlic cloves, cut in quarters
  • 16 prunes, cut in half
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups white wine, divided
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large casserole or Dutch oven, combine the oil with the onions over medium heat (alternatively you can heat the oil first, but starting the onions in cold oil will give them a mellower taste). Simmer the onions for about 10 minutes, until soft.
  3. Add the sauerkraut, garlic, prunes, thyme, and 1 cup of the wine to the casserole. Mix well and simmer for about 10 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the remaining 1 cup of wine and the honey and bay leaves and simmer on the stove for another 25 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the sauerkraut acquires a deep golden color.
  4. Add a cup of water to the casserole, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until all the water has evaporated and the top layer is nicely caramelized. (If it becomes dry during baking, feel free to add a bit more water.)
  5. Let the sauerkraut sit in the refrigerator 1 to 2 days before serving. (This is absolutely critical, so be patient).
  6. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

More Great Recipes: Vegetables|Appetizers|Entrees|Side Dishes

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Comments (27) Questions (0)

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5 months ago Annie stader

I tested this for the contest and I loved it. I had also had just home cured a pastrami. They were a great pair and I also put some on a Reuben type sandwich. Reuben never had it so good!

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5 months ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Annie - you are genius! I have been making this dish for like 20 years and it never ever occurred to me to do it. Thanks so much for testing my dish, the comment and the tip.

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over 1 year ago Rivka

This recipe is just fantastic. I can't tell you how much I love it....or how much of it I ate in one sitting. Thank you!

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over 1 year ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

... and thank you for letting me know!

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over 1 year ago Rivka

...between friends, try slipping a little leftover gravy into the pot. wow.

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over 1 year ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

i MUST try that ASAP

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over 1 year ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I'm so glad you made this and then wrote, Rivka. It reminded me to get started. First batch is in the oven now, and I can't wait. Will be hard to wait a day or two...

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almost 2 years ago MyCommunalTable

I love the recipe. I also love that it is made ahead of time. Perfect for entertaining. thanks.

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almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Thank you... It can also be kept for a couple of days, and it really gets better as it "ages"

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almost 2 years ago loubaby

This sounds great...I grew up with sauerkraut, being in a Polish family and my mom used in so many ways, but not like this with prunes and such...I will definitely put in the bacon as you suggest and I will serve it along some sausage---smoked or brats ..as coming from the Midwest, that would be a natural with a bakery good rye bread!...delicious...thanks so much.

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over 2 years ago rbknits

I have about 5 jars of homemade sauerkraut to still use up from the end of last summer's harvest; will definitely be trying this recipe...thanks for sharing! Any ideas of what to serve it with? Potato? Beans?

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Potatoes definitely. And, one of my favorite ways of serving the dish is with warm or grilled polenta

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Goodness! My mouth is watering just reading the title of this recipe. A brilliant turn West from the more standard sauerkraut + apples. I am definitely giving this one a whirl, most likely this weekend! ;o)

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Thanks AJ! I look forward to your comments, like it or not, please let me know if it worked out.

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

By the way, what kind of wine do you use when making this? Will be shopping tomorrow! ;o) P.S Love the three bay leaves. Totally my kind of dish.

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

To be honest, the dish is very forgiving, and likes most of white wines. Well, maybe not the mineral ones, and definitely not the extremely sweet ones, since with all the prunes and the honey it could be a bit too much. I generally like to drink Alsatian wines, and always have the leftovers handy. Also, it kind of stays true to the spirit of sauerkraut :)

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

But do leave it for a day or so... The flavors come together after a day of rest and the taste will be very different.

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

ooh, this looks delightful. i love sauerkraut! and prunes!

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Emily, thank you!

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over 2 years ago lapadia

Love your story, I never tasted sauerkraut, growing up, my husband has always loved it, always had it and I must say I finally acquired a taste for it. This sounds like a great recipe to try, I can even picture making a pumpernickel pizza style crust and using this as a topping...maybe with a little leftover corned beef. St. Patrick's is around the corner, I just may try that. Stay tuned.

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Thank you lapadia, the pizza and corned beef sounds enticing, I would love to try it. Please let me know if the dish worked for you.

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over 2 years ago lapadia

Will do. I copied the recipe and am hoping to find the time to make this asap!

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

btw, I usually taste the sauerkraut before making the dish, and if it is way on the sour side, I give it an extra rinse or two to get rid of the excessive acidity.

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over 2 years ago lapadia

Thanks for the tip :)

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Wow, didn't know that rinsing could help with the acidity. The things we learn here! (I've adored sauerkraut, especially when cooked forever in a slow oven, my whole life. I am so looking forward to this.) ;o)

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over 2 years ago lapadia

Hi QS! Well I finally made your recipe, served to the side of the family (husband's) that grew up eating kraut. They LOVED it, we all loved it. I will def. make it again. Thanks for sharing it :)!

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over 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Oh, I am so glad you liked it! Thanks a lot for letting me know.