Every family has traditions that form a bond with past generations and give a certain identity and flavor that makes each family unique. In my family we have a mix of West Virginia hillbilly and Pennsylvania Dutch; which makes for a rather interesting blend! For example, growing up, every girl in the family got a Black Forest Cuckoo clock for a wedding gift. So growing up I thought every house had to have a cuckoo clock or it wasn’t complete! Since only the girls received them as gifts, I had to wait until my daughters went to Germany on a mission trip one year to get mine! But I have kept it hanging and working in a prominent place in the house every since then. My wife bought me one in Colombia when she found one as she knew how much they meant to me. In the food category that ranges from squirrel stew to sauerkraut and dumplings.
In the food category, yes, I hunt and we eat venison and squirrel and other game meat as part of our family tradition; and my kids all do as well! When I got married, my wife was from an aristocratic old Virginia family and so sauerkraut was not part of her tradition. We would go to my family home on New Years for many of the early years back from Colombia on furlough, but when our family grew and it was easier to stay home, the traditional Sauerkraut on New Year’s day fell to me if I wanted to continue; which I did. So from that day forward, every New Year’s day, I would become the cook and prepare the sauerkraut meal. I adapted the recipe over time to my liking, adding a bit of this or that to improve the flavor and nutritional value. Surprisingly, everyone liked it; even those family members who typically did not like sauerkraut!
For that reason, I thought I would share my recipe with you this year. Here is the recipe so do feel free to borrow, adapt, and use “Dr. Dale’s Incredible Kraut and delicious Dumplings, as the family facetiously dubbed the meal! Hopefully it will give you prosperity (my kids joked that the prosperity came in the production of gas!) in the New Year, according the the German tradition.
Spectacular Spareribs and Incredible Kraut
Guaranteed for prosperity
2 racks of pork spareribs (4 to 6 pounds of local pastured pork)
3 to 4 pounds of sauerkraut (preferably homemade)
4 finely chopped unpared tart apples (about 2 cups)
4 finely chopped or shaved (with vegetable peeler) large carrots (about 2 cups)
3 cups of home canned tomato juice (or V-8 Vegetable Juice)
1 cup of diced tomatoes
6 finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup of brown sugar
4 teaspoons of caraway seed
Cut ribs in pieces, season with salt and black pepper (approximately 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper); place in a large stock pot with olive oil and brown well. Combine the kraut (which can be rinsed to reduce production of gas) with remaining ingredients; spoon over ribs to mix thoroughly until well mixed.
Simmer covered for three hours at low heat making certain the liquid covers the kraut and ribs. Skim off excess fat. Then remove lid and allow the kraut to simmer until some liquid had simmered away, leaving top of kraut exposed. Then make dumplings and place on top of the kraut and over, allowing the dumplings to bake for about fifteen minutes. Makes approximately ten servings and will warm your house for days.
2 cups of sifted all purpose flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of whole milk
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together and make certain the dry ingredients are well mixed. Add the milk and oil and kneed with pastry blender until moistened. Drop onto the kraut and cover. Do not lift cover and let mixture return to a slow boil for 12 to 15 minutes. This will make 10 generous dumplings.