Sauerkraut is an awesome food. It’s packed with vitamins, probiotics, and lots of goody-goodness. (That’s a culinary term that I just invented right there!) Some people have an aversion to it, I find that it’s because they’re used to opening the jars you find in the pickle aisles at the grocery store. You know who they are – the ones loaded with the most sour briny concoction ever.
You’re best off buying the organic, bagged version. Keep in mind, that it’s not always available. You could make your own, (but not in time for dinner.) (I can see a post on that one day – remind me sometime!)
Two things that make sauerkraut better are: caraway seeds, and apples. Around here people seem to have an aversion with pork and fruit – but I grew up with it. The sweetness with the tartness of the apples lend a subtle dimension to the sourness of the kraut. It’s like putting a phone book up to your chin before it socks you with it’s five finger sauer-death punch.
In my research, I found that a lot of people “finish” the sauerkraut by cooking it with a little potato. What this does is smoothes it out, and makes it more palatable (for normal people.) Sure, I can eat it right out of a jar – but I also grew up eating it. Other people’s lips pucker inward, their faces threaten to implode. Some people just can’t hack it. Wimpy people.
Either way, adding the best parts of the season’s produce will turn an ordinary dish into something people will talk about. One word of caution: people may walk in and crinkle their noses to the smell of cooking sauerkraut. (My child especially.) A bit if reassurance is in order. Soften them up with a few lagers, and all will be good. (Apple juice for the little one!) For the ladies, save some of the cider for a bit of an aperitif before supper. Can’t hurt!
No picture for this dish today. There wasn’t a point in taking one as the pork loin turned out too dry. Word to the wise: when you are cooking a dish, then find it is not done by the time you need to go get your four-year-old from the daycare, Murphy will visit your kitchen.
See, your four-year-old won’t want to go home. He’ll pitch a screaming fit, and you’ll spend 20 minutes trying to get him into your front door. If this happens to you (with as much regularity as me,) then before you leave, be on the safe side – turn the oven down to 300°F. You can always increase the temperature when you get home to finish the roast.
Roasted Pork Loin with Apple-Spiked Sauerkraut
- 2 pounds pork loin roast, tied
- 2 tablespoon caraway seeds, divided
- 1 tablespoon Smoked paprika
- to taste salt
- to taste pepper
- 2 cups sauerkraut
- 2 medium apples, peeled
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 small potato, peeled and held in water
- 2 teaspoons sugar or sugar substitute (optional)
For the Pork Loin:
- Season the pork loin aggressively with the salt and fresh black pepper. Remember that since the pork loin is thick, this is your only chance to really get the flavor enhancement from the salt and pepper, so don’t be stingy! While the fat renders, it will carry the salt throughout the meat, seasoning it. (That’s why the fat is the best tasting part of the pork!)
- Rub the smoked paprika and one tablespoon of the caraway seeds into the loin. Your hands will get a little bit dirty, but make sure you get it in all the nooks and crannies of the meat.
- Set the meat aside so you can complete the following steps. If you have critters in the house, (like a dog named Hershey,) make sure they can’t lick the meat. You have seen where they can put that tongue, right?
For the Sauerkraut:
- Place into a casserole dish, then mix in the remaining caraway seeds. Some people aren’t fussy over the sour taste of sauerkraut. (Hey, it’s named “Sour” for a reason!) If you desire, rinse the sauerkraut in water to wash away the sourness of the final dish.
- Grate the apples into the dish, add cider and mix thoroughly.
- Put the seasoned pork loin on top of the sauerkraut mixture, then place the dish, uncovered, into a 450°F oven for 10 minutes. This is to caramelize the proteins and fat for maximum flavor later on. (It has nothing to do with sealing in juices – I hate hearing that!)
- Lower the oven temperature to 350°F, cover the casserole dish and cook the pork loin until a thermometer comes out at 145°F. (Around 15-20 minutes per pound.) If you don’t have a thermometer, err on the side of caution – allow 15 minutes per pound. You can always put the roast back in to cook more, but you can’t uncook an overdone piece of meat.) Try and time it so if your four-year-old refuses to come home from the daycare, you won’t overcook your meat.
Finishing the Sauerkraut
- Remove the pork loin from the casserole, and put it aside, covered with foil, to rest. Don’t be tempted to cut into it just yet – unless you aren’t sure about how well it is cooked. (That’s why it is so good to have a thermometer – you cut the guessing on whether it is done!) If you MUST cut it to check doneness, cut it from the middle. If it’s underdone (read raw) in the middle, them push the pieces back together, cover, and put back into the oven. If it’s a slight shade darker then pink, then don’t despair – it’ll continue to cook while it’s resting. We call this “carry-over cooking”.
- Transfer the sauerkraut mixture to a saucepan. Over low heat, grate in the small potato and add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture. Continue cooking until the sauerkraut is shiny, and you can’t taste the starch from the potatoes anymore. You will be left with tender, soft sauerkraut.
- Optional: Taste the mixture. If it’s too sour for you, you can add a few teaspoons of sugar (or substitute) to the mixture and stir it in. It’ll make it a sweet-sour side, and some people like that. Apples are the natural way to sweeten the sauerkraut, but some people’s taste tends to the sweeter side. I told my wife she could sprinkle some sugar on the top if she so desired. Why wreck the briny goodness combined with the golden drippings from the pork?
The Final Dish:
- Once the pork loin has rested, (about 10 minutes,) cut the strings from the roast, and slice it as thick as you like. If the roast is a bit dry, (because your four-year-old ran around the house with your oven mitts refusing to give them back to you,) then you’ll want to slice it a bit on the thin side. I personally like the end, (so does my wife.) If you’re feeling generous, split it with her. Otherwise, just even off the roast before she gets home. Hey – first come, first served!
- Serve the sauerkraut as a sauce to the sliced pork loin, and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories From Fat (25%) 74.83
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.35g 13%
Saturated Fat 2.72g 14%
Cholesterol 95.26mg 32%
Sodium 1786.19mg 74%
Potassium 939.4mg 27%
Total Carbohydrates 21.37g 7%
Fiber 4.8g 19%
Protein 35.21g 70%