Sauerkraut (Latvian style)

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Overview
My Oma used to make this for special occasions. After I first moved out of home, I begged her for the recipe and she wrote it out for me on a scrap of paper. I really wish I’d kept that piece of paper, but I found her writing hard to read (old-style Latvian cursive script involves all u,v,n,m looking the same… little waves on the page!) so I re-wrote it.

The smell reminds me of her every time I make it at Easter and Christmas.

Time
2 hours cooking time, but this gets better after resting for a day or two. It tastes better each time it is reheated.

Ingredients
Fermented sauerkraut (home made or 2 – 3 tins of commercial stuff)
2 brown onions, diced
8 rashers of speck or bacon, diced (home-smoked is best)
3 – 4 bay leaves
Caraway seeds
Cracked pepper (Oma used peppercorns – I don’t like surprises when I’m biting into sauerkraut!)
2 ts sugar
water
½ cabbage, shredded (can be extended to 1 whole cabbage)
4 Don skinless frankfurters (optional – Oma did this though, so we do too!)

Method
Oma used to drain the sauerkraut juice off and reserved it for later use if the flavour warranted it – I don’t do this any more as it’s tasty and I kept adding it all back in anyway!

1 – Saute the speck/bacon and onion in a large pot. I use butter, but it could be oil.

2 – Add sauerkraut, bay leaves, caraway seeds (essential for a true Latvian kraut) and season generously with cracked pepper. Cook on medium for 30 minutes, adding water if needed to prevent sticking.

3 – Add sugar and taste. Adjust flavours if needed (more sugar, more sauerkraut juice if you reserved some earlier).

4 – Add the cabbage and cook for an hour. Keep checking to see if more water is needed – the base should not be dry. If the cabbage doesn’t fit, add in batches – it cooks down and reduces in volume.

5 – Add sliced sausages for the second reheat.