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Sausages and sauerkraut

"Sausage can get complicated. Take Germany. There are said to be 1,500 types of sausage that vary between region, town, and maker. Some even have protected status under German law." - Epicurious

Yes in the end I decided to go with some Debreziner sausages I had in the freezer from Aldi, and sauerkraut, and I didn't even attach a picture of such a dish to my article yesterday. So at the risk of boring you all yet further here are a few thoughts on German and Eastern European sausauges and their inevitable accompaniment - sauerkraut.

The recipe shown above by the way is from Eat Smart. It doesn't have a clever title - it's just sausage and sauerkraut and I don't think it's actually the recipe I shall be using but I think mine will probably end up looking similar.

I think my first experience of sausages and sauerkraut was when my then boyfriend, now husband, and our two English friends travelled across Germany on our way to a camping holiday in Yugoslavia back in, I think, 1965, when Yugoslavia was still Yugoslavia. We took the night ferry to France, drove our friend's sister's Beetle with all our gear - most of it on top - through the north of France, crashed the car and had to overnight somewhere in the WW1 battlefields whilst it was repaired. No-one was hurt I hasten to say - it just ended up in a ditch with a broken back axle. But that's all another story really.

We continued on, driving virtually non-stop across Germany, and Italy into Yugoslavia, stopping only to eat in autobahn cafés, although I think we stopped for an hour or so in the Alps somewhere whilst we had a sleep. It all doesn't bear thinking about now really. I didn't partake in the driving because at that time I couldn't drive. I'm not sure David could either. But our friends took it in turns. Anyway the food in the autobahn cafés was almost exclusively sausages of one kind or another and sauerkraut. I can't say that it was a taste sensation that hooked me in, but I liked it enough to not turn my nose up at choucroute when I tasted that in France. And it was different, with every café having a different kind of sausage. And over the years I have really come to like sauerkraut - and also most of those sausages. Here in Australia, because there is a sizeable contingent of German and Eastern European immigrants, their wonderful range of sausages is easily available. I mean kabana, Polish sausage and Strasbourg are basics of the delicatessen in your local supermarket, with others such as bratwurst, kransky, rookwurst, liverwurst and the ones I really like - Debreziner - available pretty easily too. I mean Aldi is German is it not?

Having been Ok with the German sausages and the sauerkraut on the autobahns, I also learned to love the spicier Croatian sausages which we turned into delectable stews with masses of capsicums and tomatoes. Back then the availability of food was limited in Yugoslavia, as were our funds, and these ingredients were the easiest to find and buy in the local market, in Split. It's delicious and I still make it every now and then. It's a nostalgic, almost romantic dish for me.

On the other hand choucroute is one of those dishes, that is only worth making for a crowd, for it requires a mixture of meats and sausages. So that is a very occasional treat, and at the moment it is hard to envisage ever cooking for a crowd again.

It's amazing really isn't it, that the simple word 'sausage' can mean so many different things?

The dish I'm actually going to make tonight is a sort of pared back choucroute - the sauerkraut is braised in the oven first and then you add the sausages near the end. I think I'll serve it with potatoes of some kind, or should I put them in with the sauerkraut? It's called Beer-Braised Sausages and Sauerkraut and I found it in Epicurious - but there's no picture. I chose it because, if you remember, the impetus for all of this is to use up the leftover Corona beer. As I say, I'm expecting it to look a bit like the one at the top of the page, because I'm planning on adding some of that leftover ham to the mix too.

Sausage and sauerkraut - lots of different things you can do with that combination. Here are some of them: Kielbasa, sauerkraut and mushroom - from Nigel Slater - I was very tempted to try this one instead, although he doesn't seem to actually cook the sauerkraut at all which is a bit weird; a very fancy sandwich from Gourmet Traveller - Pork sausage and Swiss cheese on toasted rye with sauerkraut; and by contrast, from Bon Appétit a rather plain Bratwurst with apples, onions and sauerkraut; Slow-cooker German bratwurst from Serious Eats; hot dogs with sauerkraut and mustard - a generic photograph this one, and a really tempting looking dish from delicious magazine called German sausage with sweet potato röesti and sauerkraut. I'm not sure you can easily get those really long sausages very easily though. And aren't they more French then German?

And then if you want to try something a bit weird with sauerkraut you could always try Yotam Ottolenghi's Spiced turmeric cabbage. It's a sort of pickled cabbage recipe rather than sauerkraut, but interesting of course. And no sausages.

David is very happy at the idea of sauerkraut. He loves it.


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