Rescuing a kraut recipe

I love sauerkraut.

With that statement, I’ve either added new readers, or forced the old ones to to move on for now. It seems like everyone either loves the stuff, or hates it. Maybe it’s my German ancestry, but I could eat sauerkraut every day of the week.

I don’t, though, for the simple reason that except for eating it out of the can, or crock-potting it with ribs, I really don’t have many ideas for how to fix it.

A couple weeks ago I was visiting with an elderly friend who told me she was fixing a sauerkraut casserole for supper. Here’s my chance, I thought, and asked her what was in it.

“Hamburger, sauerkraut and tomato soup,” she said.

I battled valiantly to keep my face from telling on my thoughts. Yech! is what I was thinking.

When she gave me a taste of her leftovers, I amended my thoughts to ones of hopefulness, and accepted her offer of the recipe. This is what it calls for:

1 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 can tomato soup
1 soup can of water
1 soup-can sized can of sauerkraut
1/2 cup raw rice

Recipe in hand, I headed for home, and showed it to George. His expression suggested that someone had just done something impolite in the room, but he assured me that I hadn’t yet fixed anything he didn’t like, so he was game to try it. A few days later, I did.

I did NOT, however, stick to the recipe. First of all, I seasoned the meat with

Alas, we ate the casserole before I thought to photograph it. That's a good sign!

Alas, we ate the casserole before I thought to photograph it. That’s a good sign!

garlic salt, garlic powder, basil, parsley (both of those grown in my garden) and coarsely ground black pepper. When I sautéed that with the onions, I added crushed red pepper flakes. We like our foods with a bit of zing.

Then I added the soup, and instead of water, used chicken broth because I happened to have some already opened in the fridge. The kraut was about a 12-ounce can, I think, and I made sure I didn’t drain it. I used a generous half-cup scoop of the rice, because I remembered that my friend’s casserole was a little goupy. (Yes, that’s a word.)

All of this I put in a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish–but then I grated some wonderful cheddar cheese for the topping. It had been aged 5 years, and if you’re a cheese lover, you’d want to OD on this.

George’s first bit of the finished product was tentative, but his forkfuls grew larger. “It’s a keeper!” he said, and I agreed.

Like a fine old house or a runway model, the original recipe had good bones. It just needed a little tweaking here and there. Best of all, I found something new to do with sauerkraut!


About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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7 Responses to Rescuing a kraut recipe

  1. Vinny Grette says:

    Fermented foods are O so healthy and I’m anxious to try them!

  2. Monica Sawyn says:

    Everyone who read this when it was first published got a truncated version. I wrote it, then copied and pasted to the WordPress page, and didn’t check it. Only discovered later that the last couple paragraphs had been left off! So, they’re there now, if it matters to anyone but me. 🙂

  3. Vinny Grette says:

    Coincidentally, I had a fabulous sauerkraut dish for supper tonight! I hope to get a chance to post it in the next month or so (have a few others to do in the meantime…)

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