Author Notes: Why should apples have all the fun? Pears also make for for a noble companion to pork chops, particularly when joined by sauerkraut. I like making my own kraut not only because it tastes more fresh and delicious compared to storebought counterparts but also because its a super simple (two ingredients!) way to turn potential food waste (leftover fresh cabbage) in to something that lasts a darn long time. —nishis
Easiest Homemade Sauerkraut
head of cabbage (red or green)
thick cut pork chops
small onion, diced
cup chicken stock
cups sauerkraut (see above recipe)
Easiest Homemade Sauerkraut
- Cut cabbage into shreds. I prefer not to use the food processor since you don't want it too fine (and fewer dishes this way too).
- In a large bowl, make a layer of cabbage. Pound down on the cabbage (to get it to release water) with a blunt object (wooden spoon; rolling pin; something wooden so no one, including your bowl, gets hurt).
- Sprinkle salt on this layer of cabbage. Be generous. Then layer more cabbage on top. Again pound, salt, layer until you've used up your cabbage.
- Let your salted, beaten cabbage rest in the bowl for 15 minutes.
- Then start piling it in to a quart sized mason jar. Pound it further to release more water and to cram it all in.
- Once your jar is full, add more salt for good measure and enough water to cover the top of the cabbage. Seal the jar and flip it over once or twice to make sure everything is well mixed. Optional: mix in a spoonful of whey (the liquid part from yogurt) to get the cultures going (not necessary but can accelerate the process). Then remove the lid.
- Loosely cover. I use the mason jar lid but don't screw it on all the way.
- Ferment. For the next two days, leave it at room temperature. The mixture will create gas (hence the loose covering) so you will want to lift the lid to make sure it is getting released. Do not fret if you see mold at the top, but this should not occur if there is sufficient salty water.
- After 36-48 hours, smell your kraut. It should be sourish but not funky. You will know if its off. If it has turned any crazy colors, get rid of it and try again making sure you have enough salt (which is what should inhibit mold growth). If all went well, seal and refrigerate for later use (like the recipe below!).
- Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. If you don't have a large enough skillet, a dutch oven would also work.
- Salt your chops and let thim sit for 20 minutes. Sear the pork chops on all sides to brown them and to render their fat. Set aside on a plate.
- Lower the heat to medium. If you did not have particularly fatty chops, melt the butter in the pan. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt. Cook until translucent.
- Use the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, and scrape up any brown bits. Add the sauerkraut (drained as you don't want it to get too wet) and pear and stir them to combine with the onions. Return the chops to the pan on top of the kraut.
- Cover, lower the heat to low and let the chops braise. Check after 15 minutes using a meat thermometer (or see if the juices are clear), and if needed return for another 5-10 minutes.
- When the chops are done, remove from pan. Allow the kraut, pear, onion mixture to reduce so no longer overly. wet. Serve chops on a bed of this mixture and enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Pears