Happy New Year! Start it with Delicious Man Food – Pork and Sauerkraut!


Today, like every New Year’s Day for years, I am making Pork and Sauerkraut for luck. It’s a Pittsburgh tradition and is man food at its finest. Not hard to make, ridiculously good, and includes beer. Men love it. Women do too…especially when paired with creamy mashed red potatoes.

And it’s good all winter long because it’s hearty (especially if you’re back east where winters make your nose hairs freeze) delicious,  and a good hot meal. An added perk is, it looks like the food Ralphie’s mom fed their family in A Christmas Story.

This is another great recipe I got from my sister-in-law, Donna and brother Bernie. They were also the origins of my carrot cake recipe and the Danish Pastry Puff recipe, so you know this is going to be good too.

I just went back over my prior recipe for this dish and discovered a big error — I am so sorry! So, I’m re-posting it today. It really needs two 32 ounce jars of sauerkraut, one is not enough. So, if you ever made it and found it lacking, I am so sorry for that oversight. The other weird thing about this recipe is if you cover the pan with aluminum foil, something strange happens to the foil. It starts to pit or disintegrate because of the acidity of the vinegar in the sauerkraut combined with the barbecue sauce. If you can, use a pan with a metal or glass cover instead of foil. I read that the tiny particles won’t hurt you, but who wants to eat foil?

Good table shot

I have a few resolutions this year, including approaching life with less fear and more determination.  I have a few books on my table that are helpful right now, including a Christmas gift from my friend, Dawn. It’s called “Almost Everything” by Anne Lamott and is about hope. Without hope, we have nothing, so I love anything that can keep hope alive and well in the world. I’m also reading “The Power of Starting Something Stupid,” by Richie Norton. Those two, and an old favorite, “Tattoos on the Heart,” by Father Gregory Boyle (which I’m hoping is making me a more compassionate person) are a good way to start 2019.

Last year ended with too much loss for me. Let’s hope 2019 brings us all the health, happiness, prosperity and common sense leadership we need to be comfortable and safe in the world.  Thanks for always reading.  Here’s some hearty man food to get you through 2019.

Man Food – Lucky 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 works)

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 or large casserole dish and sprinkle with meat tenderizer and garlic salt.  Place it, uncovered, in the 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 – and it’s easy!) Process apple into small dice also.  (It’s ok if it’s a little mushy looking.) 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 a glass baking lid or  casserole cover because if you use aluminum foil, it will pit and start to disintegrate in tiny spots because of the acid in the sauerkraut. (It’s not horrible, but you probably don’t want to eat that.) I used a cookie sheet to cover mine and that worked. 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.

Go Ahead, Have a Bite!

As you may have noticed, I spend a lot of time thinking about food. When I’m not thinking about it, I’m cooking it, eating it or cleaning up after doing both. And friends always ask me, how do you stay thin? Continue reading

I’m Having an Affair with Panko

I know, I know.  I went on and on about how the lemon ricotta cookies were “the ones,” but I’ve found a new love; Toasted Panko.

I feel bad being fickle, but the Panko toasted up so nicely and gave my broccoli such a nice crunch, I was helpless. Continue reading

My First Christmas Eve Away – How I Survived

I just read an article in the LA Times about an Austrian chef who re-creates Christmas dinners like those in his homeland because he has such great memories. I loved that, instead of sinking into a depression over what he’s missing, he’s re-creating it with braised duck and roasted chestnuts.

My nephew, Marc being blindfolded for the taste-test. We take our blind tasting very seriously.

My nephew, Marc being blindfolded for the pasta sauce taste-test. My brothers often do a blind tasting to poll whose sauce is best – not that we’re competitive or anything.

I remember forcing myself to do that the first year I spent Christmas Eve away from my large, lunatic Italian family.
I didn’t think I’d make it, but it was my second year of being married and I knew it wasn’t fair for us to always go to my family and not his, so we started alternating; one year we flew back, the next, we stayed. Continue reading

The Hand That Stirs the Pot, Wields the Power

My innocent nephew Marc, lured by the siren.

My innocent nephew Marc, lured by the siren.

I was on the phone with my sister-in-law yesterday talking about Thanksgiving and what keeps families together over the years. I think witchcraft might be involved.

We were lured in like Italian Hansels and Gretels by wonderful ravioli and slow-cooked sauce on Sundays. My mom acted innocent,while enticing us to sit together with delicious meals every night, where the chuck roast or turkey was so tender it fell from the bone and melted in our mouths. Continue reading