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New Year Slow-Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut

January 3, 2015

In Western Pennsylvania, there are traditions you just have to keep.  One is pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. I may not live there currently, but I’ll be damned if I’m giving up this tradition, it’s too good.

It’s said to be good luck to eat pork on New Year’s Day because pigs root forward, so, your year will start in a positive direction, unless you’re a pig. Honestly, I’ve never noticed an upswing in my luck because I make this dish every year, but who knows how bad things might have been if I hadn’t? Why take chances?

I’m a little late with this recipe because I’ve been sick and couldn’t cook on the first. (Kissing a million relatives on each cheek for days will do that to you but it was well worth it!) I’ll let you know if my pork tardiness affects my luck in the coming months. (So far, it’s not looking great because I fell asleep as the pork was cooking and it got a little overdone.) It could have been worse, my pork could have ended up charcoal briquets — sounds like good luck to me.

A delicious bite of fork-tender pork and sauerkraut.

A delicious bite of fork-tender pork and sauerkraut.

I’ve read it’s a Pennsylvania Dutch custom, but Germans,the Polish and clearly, some Italians follow it too. It doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s good — and this dish is awesome. Every guest who’s eaten it gets crazy with happiness. Served with mashed potatoes, it’s perfect all winter long, so why only have it once?

And I have to throw this in because it’s just ridiculous. My mom’s custom on New Year’s Eve was to take the actual raw pork roast and put it outside, as she stood there holding her open purse up to face the moon, saying, “Fill it uppa, fill it uppa, fill it uppa.” Apparently she believed the moon had banking powers. Not sure the reason for the pork roast, it may have just been moral support.

I’d hear my dad on the recliner chair chuckling, “What the hell are you doing out there?” She’d fire back, “Shad uppa! Dis issa good a lock!” Then she’d yell, “Happy New Ear!”  He knew what she was doing, but he couldn’t stop her, and the entertainment value was well worth it.  He’d slowly get up, creep over to look out the front door at her, shake his head, then have a drink with us to toast the New Year.

My mom was one of the luckiest people I know, so maybe next year, the pork roast goes outside with me and my purse. (Not sure what to do if there’s no moon…I’ll get back you on that.)

The magic number of hours this dish should cook, once assembled, is three, so give yourself plenty of time.  When it’s done, you don’t need a knife for the pork, it just falls apart. And make regular mashed potatoes, not garlic mashed – recipe is below. It tastes better and won’t overpower the pork. This recipe is from Donna and brother, Bernie with no alterations, that’s how good it is.

I thank you and love you for reading/following my blog. I wish you excellent health, great luck, and the persistence to pursue your dreams in 2015 and onward, no matter how silly they may seem to others. Be brave enough to state them and go after them. Everything starts as someone’s dream and only those of us stubborn/crazy enough to persist get to see their dream come true in glorious fashion like my mom did with Bob Barker. And hey, Happy New Ear!

Good Luck Pork and Sauerkraut

Here it is before cooking, ready to be covered and bake for three hours.

Here it is before cooking, ready to be covered and bake for three hours.

2 – 32 oz. jars sauerkraut

1 – 12 oz bottle of beer (Miller or Bud light is fine)

1 pork shoulder roast – about 4 pounds — sliced about 1 inch thick (about 6 to 10 pork slices)

1/2 to 1 lb of Polksa Kielbassa sliced into 2 to 3 inch pieces

Garlic salt

Meat tenderizer

1 large apple shredded

1 large onion chopped

Bull’s Eye Regular Barbecue Sauce

Take the pork and slice it into 1 inch slices.  Lay slices on sprayed baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic salt and meat tenderizer.  Place, uncovered in oven about 45 minutes – until just cooked.

While pork is cooking. Remove sauerkraut from  the jars and drain out juice.  You don’t have to squeeze it, just drain it. Place drained sauerkraut in large bowl.  Chop onion into a small dice.  (I use the food processor because I hate crying when I chop onions!) Chop apple into small dice also.  Add apple and onion to drained sauerkraut and mix well.

Remove pork from oven. (There will be juice in the bottom of the pan – I leave it in there for flavor.) Place sauerkraut-apple mixture evenly over the pork. Place in chopped kielbassa pieces wherever they fit. Pour the whole beer into the pan then drizzle barbecue sauce over the sauerkraut. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for three hours or until the pork is fork tender. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes 

8 large red-skinned potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks

1 cup or more of half and half (or whipping cream if you want them to be really decadent and killer good)

1 stick of butter (melted)

Sea Salt

Scrub the potatoes and remove any eyes, then chop them into eighths (or smaller)and place them in a large pot. (I don’t peel them because the skin is supposed to be where the nutrients are, plus with red potatoes,  the skin is so thin it really doesn’t detract from the taste at all.) Fill the pot so the water  is about an inch over the top of the potatoes and let them boil.  While they are cooking, take a small pan and put the butter in to melt. Do not let it brown.  Set it aside.

When the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, drain them and immediately add the butter and mix it into the potatoes. I read somewhere this makes the potatoes fluffier and creamier, and in my experience that is so true.  Then add the half and half, or whipping cream (or do a mixture of half and half and whipping cream).

But take heed! (Once, in my 20’s,  I made the mistake of draining the potatoes and waiting a while to add the butter and half and half, and they were like stucco!  You could have plastered walls with them. I never lived it down.) I use a hand mixer and just mix them with the half and half and butter, until they reach a creamy consistency I like. Then I add the salt to taste.  (If you want to get crazy you can rice them with a ricer, but I never take the time to do that and they turn out fine.)  Then serve them with a little dollop of butter in the middle.

  • Reply
    A Bold Ham Statement. | At Fran's Table
    January 10, 2016 at 6:32 am

    […] to say this, but the thing I love most about pork is that you can go so many directions with it:  Slow Cooked Pork Smothered in Sauerkraut, Stuffed Porkchops, Herbed Juicy Pork Roast, Pork Adobo, Pulled Pork, Split Pea Soup with Chunks of […]

  • Reply
    Chas Madonio
    January 6, 2015 at 11:57 am

    The B.B.Q.sauce is a new one to me. I cook my pork roast, after seasoning it with garlic salt and caraway seeds for 6 hrs. at 250. It melts in your mouth. I make the saurekraut in a separate pot with caraway seeds, 1 cut up potato and 1 bottle of beer for about 3 hrs. on simmer. Then I serve it over home made dumplings. Except this year, Nancy was so sick on New year’s Day, we just had ours on Sunday. Best of everything to you in the new year!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Wow Chas, that sounds amazing, I will have to try it! And I have to get your homemade dumpling recipe! YUM! Thanks, as always, for reading and Happy New Ear to you and Nancy!

  • Reply
    Matilda Novak
    January 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Sounds delicious! Here’s to the best possible 2015…..

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 4, 2015 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks Matilda, I wish you the very best in 2015! Thanks for always reading!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    Amen, sister! Happy New Ear, Fran! I started the new year sick too (still am), but am NOT letting this dictate my lofty plans for 2015. Love you!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      You go Linda, I have no doubt you will accomplish everything you set out to do!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Happy New “Ear, foot, & why not whole body?!” LOL! Recipe looks yummy!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      OK, Happy New Every – ting!

  • Reply
    Nicol Zanzarella
    January 3, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Yes, please! That looks delicious!! Happy New Ear!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 3, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      I’ll make another batch that’s not burned and invite you guys!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Great, Fran! You and I did the same sort if research, it seems. I came across that “rooting forward” item, too. Happy New Ear!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      January 3, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Here’s to each of us rooting forward and getting somewhere amazing this year!

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