Sausages and kraut, a match made for outdoors

Consider the first food you ever speared on a stick and perched over a campfire. Chances are it was a marshmallow or hot dog.

While most of us tend to outgrow an affection for sticky blobs of scorched sugar (until we introduce our own kids), our tastes for meat-in-tube-form grow up. Good-quality sausages — Andouille, kielbasa, boudin, bratwurst and their ilk — are indispensable outdoor fare.

Dining around the campfire, I like to serve Italian sausages with griddled polenta and sautéed vegetables, featured in a previous post. Or boudin blanc with a simple salad of Puy lentils, sun-dried tomatoes and diced fennel. Or bratwurst on stadium rolls with homemade sauerkraut and spicy mustard.

Some friends and camping companions, whose diet excludes grains, served up a vat of sausages and sauerkraut last summer that went down so well with a few German beers that no one seemed to miss the bun. This recipe is easy to make with a grill or griddle, plus a single cast-iron pan on a camp stove. If you don’t care whether your sausage casing crisps, just bury the bratwurst in the sauerkraut mixture until cooked through.          

Keep in mind that if you’re eating traditional fermented sauerkraut for its probiotic properties, cooking it will kill the beneficial bacteria. So a lower-cost, vinegar-brined cabbage may be the way to go.

Tribune News Service photo

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut With Apple

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 quart sauerkraut (2 pounds), preferably from bag or jar, washed and drained

1 small onion, sliced

1 large apple, peeled if desired, cored and sliced thin

1 tablespoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed

1 tablespoon butter

1 pound bratwurst, cut into thick slices

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the sauerkraut, onion, apple and caraway for a couple of minutes. Cover and continue cooking over low heat for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in sauté pan. Cook the bratwurst in butter until it browns on all sides. Pour off excess fat.

To serve, arrange sauerkraut on platter, surrounded by bratwurst. If desired, serve with Dijon mustard.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from a recipe by Marian Burros in the New York Times.

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