Friday, 7 October 2011

Comfort food required

After the unexpected encore of summer, autumn has returned. It's not simply a case of the shortening days reflecting the season, the temperature has now dropped.

Although it was beautifully bright at the end of the afternoon, it was more than a tad nippy. Waiting for a bus on Euston Road, my still-sandalled feet were jolly cold by the time we got home.

Which was the signal to change into the sort of comforting snuggly clothing I haven't worn in months - and prepare some equally comforting food.

We had popped into a small, local supermarket before getting the bus and, with the need for comfort and the desire for ease in mind, had picked up a pack of frankfurters. Everything else was already in the fridge and cupboards at home.

Sauerkraut is an acquired taste, but it's a taste we acquired some years ago on our first trip to Berlin.

It's easy enough to find in the UK these days and there was already a partly-used jar in the fridge.

It took me some time to find a way of cooking it that The Other Half enjoys, but the following seems to work.

Take your sauerkraut, rinse, drain and then squeeze it to remove as much excess water as possible.

Heat a little lard and very gently sauté the vegetable. At this point, I also added a peeled, cored and finely chopped apple, plus a bay leaf. Finely grated carrot is another good option and if you want to go for a really serious central European taste, then a few crushed caraway seeds won't go amiss.

Barely cover with water or chicken stock and cook very gently for 20-30 minutes, checking the liquid doesn't entirely evaporate too quickly. Season to taste.

The packet of franks suggested cooking in a microwave or grilling or frying. Better yet is the following, far more authentic method.

Pop them in a pan that's large enough for them to lie in. Cover with water and bring gently to boil - you don't want to split them - then put the lid on and leave, off the heat, for 10 minutes.

Serve with boiled potatoes and good German mustard - the first mustard I learned to enjoy, having come from a background that eschewed it, just as any other
Articulately strong tastes were eschewed (no horseradish either).

So, excellent comfort food and easy to cook. And sauerkraut afficionados will tell you that not only is it absolutely NOT pickled cabbage, but is fermented, it's seriously healthy too.

Indeed, there is a long history of the liquor from sauerkraut being consumed as a health drink.

There are inevitably questions over whether mass production methods reduce any of these health benefits - so perhaps sauerkraut should join the list of foods that I intend to try making myself?

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