You would have a difficult time finding two ingredients that pair as well as sauerkraut and fresh kielbasa, and not only in taste. Every fat in any dish needs an acid to cut its richness. Hollandaise uses lemon juice, mayonnaise has vinegar, and kielbasa has the acid in kraut. Even though you rinse the sauerkraut, it still has a lot of moisture that releases during cooking. The vinegary, tart juice steams the kielbasa when they cook together in a slow cooker, and slices through the fat that renders out, giving it context and character.
Things You'll Need
- Mixing bowl
- Spices and flavoring ingredients
- Kitchen knife
- Cooking liquid
- Meat thermometer (optional)
Rinse the sauerkraut in a colander with cool running water. Squeeze or press the excess water from the sauerkraut by hand or with the back of a spoon.
Place the sauerkraut in a mixing bowl and add spices and flavoring ingredients, if desired. Classic spices and ingredients include caraway seed, which has an anise-like flavor that pairs well with the acid in sauerkraut, and brown sugar, which takes the edge off the sauerkraut. You can add chili flakes for heat, and garlic for flavor, or anything you think goes well with kielbasa and kraut.
Mix the sauerkraut and place about half of it in the slow cooker. Cut the fresh kielbasa into 2- to 3-inch-long pieces.
Place an even layer of kielbasa on top of the sauerkraut and add enough sauerkraut to cover the kielbasa. Continue alternating between kielbasa and sauerkraut until you add it all.
Pour about a half-cup of liquid in the slow cooker if you filled it half full, and 3/4 cup of liquid if you filled it 3/4 full. Use any liquid you like; water, stock or apple juice all work well.
Cover the slow cooker and set it to high, or the six-hour setting. Check the kielbasa after five hours to check its doneness. Fully cooked kielbasa is firm throughout, and its juices run clear. If you're not sure it's done, insert a meat thermometer through a few pieces and check the temp. Fully cooked kielbasa has an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips & Warnings
- You need about equal parts sauerkraut and kielbasa by weight for a good balance between the flavors.
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