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Feb. 06, 2013 - 5:47 p.m.

Sauerkraut Bread?


Yes, sauerkraut bread.

And it's good.

Last Friday I made the quintessential Alsatian dish "choucroute garnie". If you're not familiar with it, that basically translates as "a buncha meat jammed into sauerkraut". Which is exactly what it is. And let me tell you, there is nothing better on a cold New Jersey winter's night.

If you've only ever had the ubiquitous American style sauerkraut up til now, you haven't had sauerkraut. You've had vinegar and brine with shreds of what at one time may have been cabbage. That stuff they slap on dirty water dogs at ballparks and pushcarts bears as much resemblance to real sauerkraut as Reality TV bears to Reality. There is no comparison.

(The sad part is that REAL sauerkraut is readily available at supermarkets nation wide, thanks to this country's wholesale welcoming of German and Eastern European immigrants and their white skin. There is no excuse for people picking up those crappy pillow packs of "sauerkraut" or equally crappy Mega-Brand jars.)

I got myself a jar of imported Polish sauerkraut, gave it a quick rinse, and made my killer, soul warming charcroute. It was awesome.

But this post isn't about charcroute. It's about the bread I made with the leftovers.

I've been making a lot of bread lately because...FOUR DOLLARS AND EIGHTY NINE CENTS A LOAF FOR FREAKIN' ARNOLD'S WHOLE GRAIN WHITE. That's why. I can get a 5-pound sack of bread flour for 3 dollars and make enough loaves from that to give me diabetes. Plus, homemade bread just flat out tastes better. And it's foolproof, despite what pedants on food blogs may tell you. If you mix water, flour and yeast and don't do anything really stupid (like let your wife or corgi eat it, or add boiling water to the yeast) it's almost impossible not to make bread.

So Saturday morning I began making a loaf of just basic good ol' God Bless America White Sandwich Bread. As I was rooting around in the fridge for the "only one day past its expiration date" milk I spotted the leftover charcroute in a Tupperware. 'Why not?' I thought.

One of the cool things about homemade bread is that you can toss almost anything into the dough while you're mixing it and your friends will think you're a genius. "Where in the world did you find a recipe for Count Chocula and Sun Dried Tomato Bread?" they'll ask. "I actually developed the recipe myself" you'll reply. They'll stare at you in wonder. Try it.

So...why not.

I took the leftover sauerkraut, which had bits of cooked apple and various mixed meats still studding it, and chopped it all up pretty fine. Then I just dumped it into the dough. Simple as that. I had to add a little more flour because the sauerkraut was pretty wet. But other than making it a larger loaf as a result, there was no ill effect at all. Oh, I also boosted the flavor with some of the spice mixture I had left over from when I put the charcroute together initially: caraway, coriander seeds, and summer savory. (The seeds were toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle.)

This sauerkraut bread turned out to be one of the best loaves of bread I've ever made. And that's saying a LOT. Even wifey, who's initial reaction on seeing me dump sauerkraut into bread dough was "BLUUUURRGHHHH!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! THAT'S...SAUERKRAUT! IN BREAD! NOOOOOOOOOO!" was enticed to try some because the smell was so unbelievable when I pulled it from the oven. And once she tried some I had to swoop in quick and grab the loaf out of her hands before she crammed the whole thing into her face. It was sweet, it was savory, it was NOT American sauerkraut flavor. In fact, if I gave you a slice you would probably be hard pressed to tell what flavor it actually was, other than "delicious".

Now go make some bread, since I've inspired you. You must have an old jar of Tang or some leftover Ambrosia Salad or something you don't know what to do with.

Seriously. Start loafing.



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