Pork Ribs and Sauerkraut with Horseradish

Earlier this year, my dad asked me if I wanted him to make sauerkraut when I came home.  While he said this in a way that was meant to be joking, he didn’t realize that I had some sauerkraut in the refrigerator, waiting to make this recipe from the Smoke and Pickles cookbook.  I joked that on this weekend, where I also had coleslaw in the house, I was having cabbage two ways.

To me, this recipe is highly reminiscent of the food that would be served at a German Oktoberfest celebration.  Between the beer in the ribs, the pork and sauerkraut being served, this recipe full of German-inspired food flavors.

I brought some of the ribs home to share with my family, who all indicated that they were better than they expected and not as full of whatever flavors they connected with sauerkraut.  While this wouldn’t be a recipe I could eat every week, it was really good and really easy to put together, so it definitely remains on the make it again list.

Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut and Horseradish

Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut and Horseradish

One 5-lb rack pork spareribs


4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp five-spice powder

One 2-lb bag sauerkraut (about 4 c)
One 12 oz bottle pilsner beer
2 c chicken stock
1/2 c water
1/2 c apple cider
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Horseradish Cream
1/4 c prepared horseradish
1 c sour cream
2 Tbsp mayonnaise

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 335 degrees.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the rack of ribs into individual ribs.

To make the rub: Mix together the salt, pepper, and five-spice powder in a small bowl.  Use your hands to massage the rub all over the ribs.  Now is not the time to be coy–be forceful about it.

Transfer the ribs to a casserole or roasting pan.  Top with the sauerkraut, juice and all.  Add the beer, stock, water, cider, and Dijon mustard.  The liquid should just barely cover the ribs.  If it doesn’t, add water until it does.

Cover the roasting pan loosely with aluminum foil and poke holes in the foil with a fork.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove and discard the aluminum foil.  Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.  Return the roasting pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake for about another 30 minutes: When ready, the ribs should be meltingly tender.  The sauerkraut will be lightly browned.  The braising liquid should be reduced to a delicious jus. If you want a thicker sauce, simply ladle a few cups into a small saucepan and reduce until thickened.

Meanwhile, make the horseradish cream: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.  Leave out at room temperature until ready to use.


Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze

It’s grilling season and I have been so intrigued by cooking different meats up this summer.  It probably is not very evident because I’ve spent a lot of time baking as well (why I’m doing that in this heat is beyond me, but it’s part of what I’ve been doing).  Nevertheless, this recipe from Smoke and Pickles uses gin in the brine and that was enough to make me decide to cook it.  So, I grabbed some pork chops and peaches the minute they were in season and put this together.  Note that I couldn’t find the pistachios I could have sworn I had on-hand and so I didn’t make the gremolata that went with the recipe.

Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze.jpg

Brined Pork Chops with Peach-Ginger Glaze

1 c gin
2 c water
1/4 c kosher salt
3 Tbsp sorghum
3 Tbsp brown sugar

Four 1-inch-thick pork loin chops

3 peaches
1/4 c dry white wine
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp honey
Pinch of salt, pinch of black pepper

Pistachio Gremolata

1 c pistachios
1/4 c dried bread crumbs
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

To make the brine: Bring the gin to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir over low heat just to dissolve the brown sugar.  Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the pork chops in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour the cooled brine into the bag.  Close the bag and brine the pork chops in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.

To make the glaze: Peel the peaches, cut each peach in half and remove the pit.  Cube the flesh and transfer to a small saucepan.  Add the wine, ginger, honey, and salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the peaches are very soft.  Let cool about 15 minutes.

Transfer the peaches and liquid to a blender and puree on high until smooth.  The smell of the sweet peaches and ginger should fill the room.  Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the gremolata: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse about 10 times to a rough paste; you can also grind them in a mortar with the pestle.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the pork chops from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry with paper towels.  Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add the pork chops and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until browned and nicely caramelized.

Brush a dollop of the peach glaze over each pork chop.  Sprinkle a generous even layer of the gremolata over the glaze.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the pork is cooked to medium-rare.  The juices should run clear when a chop is pierced with a knife close to the bone.  The glaze will be set and the gremolata should look just a shade brown and crunchy on top.  Let the cooked chops rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews

I was looking for a way to put together some cashews and use some up that I had in my cabinet, when I came across this recipe in the Smoke and Pickles cookbook.  I’ve been doing a fair bit of cooking from that cookbook recently, so you can anticipate more recipes will come from there.

Besides my oven rack being a little warmer than I would like, these were easy to do (I made them on Sunday morning before church) and had a good bit of kick to them.  The cayenne pepper was a nice addition to the other flavors.  The bacon, pre-oven cooking was nice and candied, and the cashews have been great to snack on this week.  I’d recommend trying them if you are looking for something different to have when sitting on the patio, sipping your cold beverage after having taken care of some yardwork.

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews.jpg

Bacon Candied and Curried Cashews

6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, diced
2 Tbsp sugar
1 c cashews
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced bacon and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered and the bacon has started to get crispy.  Drain off all but about a tablespoon of the bacon fat into a small bowl; reserve.

Add the sugar to the skillet and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, until it has coated the bacon and the bacon starts to look shiny.  Add the cashews, curry powder, cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and toss together to coat the nuts.  If they seem a little dry, add another teaspoon of bacon fat and toss to coat.

Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly toasted.  Let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Braised Bacon Rice

Recently, I have been flipping through a few random cookbooks where I had recipes flagged.  One such cookbook was done by a Top Chef contestant and is called Smoke and Pickles.  It features an updated take on southern cooking, an area of cooking where I have not done much experimenting, but was eager to try.  I found this recipe for braised bacon rice, and while I didn’t see a photo in the cookbook of the recipe, it looked yummy.  I was also pleased because I had the opportunity to incorporate some more cayenne pepper into my cooking, something that this midwestern gal is sometimes apprehensive to do, to say the least.

I was delighted by this recipe.  It had great flavor and with the hint of spiciness at the end of the dish.  It was nice and creamy, almost comfort food-like, and in the heat of the summer, it was a great option for on the stovetop.

Braised Bacon Rice

Braised Bacon Rice

8 oz slab bacon, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 c chopped onions
1 c chopped celery, plus 2 Tbsp chopped celery leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
4 c chicken stock
1/2 c tomato juice
1 c long-grain rice
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the bacon in a large pot over low heat until it has rendered most of its fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions, chopped celery, and the garlic and cook about 6 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.

Add the mustard, cayenne, and paprika and stir, then add the chicken stock and tomato juice and bring to a boil.  Add the rice, stir, and lower the heat to a slow simmer.  Let the rice cook, uncovered, for about 16 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the chopped celery leaves, butter, and salt and pepper to taste to the rice.  Turn off the heat and let the rice stand for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve hot.

Strawberry Ketchup

If you are experiencing the summer we’re having in Iowa, strawberries might be in season for you.  And, if you are like me, you might be looking for some new ways to cook with and/or serve them to others.  Well, I was looking through my copy of the Smoke and Pickles cookbook and came across this recipe for strawberry ketchup.  It was just intriguing enough that I knew I wanted to make it and try it out.  Thus far, I’ve tasted it on its own and with beef, and it hasn’t disappointed in either setting.  I think it could compete with a number of other spices going on in a meat, and so I would be hesitant to serve it alongside a heavily-seasoned meat item, but it’s definitely not sweet enough to be confused with a jam or jelly.

The ketchup has a nice sweetness, without being overpowering, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I imagine setting it on the table at a barbecue and having people put a little dab on their plate, but then enjoying it enough to go back for more.

I will say that I ended up cooking it for quite a bit longer after pureeing it and adding the other seasonings because I wanted to thicken it up more than it automatically did during the cooking process.  Take that into consideration, should you choose to make it as well.

Strawberry Ketchup

Strawberry Ketchup

1 lb fresh strawberries, washed and hulled, sliced or halved
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Combine the strawberries, onion, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a small pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 14 minutes, until the strawberries are soft and broken down.

Transfer the berry mixture to a blender and puree on high.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Discard the solids.

Add the white vinegar, ginger, salt, white pepper, paprika, cumin, and cloves.  Whisk well.  Transfer to two small jars, cover, and refrigerate.  The ketchup will keep up to a month in the refrigerator.