Brats in Apple-Caraway Sauerkraut


 I heard that some big football is coming up in a couple weeks, and people celebrate by screaming at the TV, drinking beer and eating themselves silly.   Like I need an excuse to do every one of those. And although I have a reputation for creating fancy-schmancy dinners, I like junkfood almost as much.  Which leads me to brats and sausages.  Especially when paired with beer and sauerkraut like in this recipe.  Really perfect for parties, since it's really very forgiving.  Make with whatever kind of sausage-like substance you feel like having, or whatever theHubs brings back from the Try-n-Save despite that carefully crafted shopping list you agonized over (it's a good thing that my favorite is whatever kind of sausage he eventually brings back).  I've made this with bratwurst, sweet Italian sausage, hot Italian sausage, German something-or-other, no matter.  Still comes out great.   Cook 'em over the BBQ for the best char and taste, but since my own grill is allergic to cold winter, burning the brats in a skillet is a close enough second and after a few brewskys no one will notice the diff anyway.

Got lazy here and only coarsely chopped the apple.  Big mistake.  Small dice is much better.
 I like to add diced apple to the kraut, which is only weird if you never tried it.  Yum. O!  And it doesn't even matter what kind of apple you use.  Like bits of apple crunch?  Use a Granny Smith or (my latest fave) Honey Crisp.  Prefer the apple to melt in to gently flavorize the kraut?  Use a half a Rome apple or a MacIntosh.

Sauerkraut is purported to have probiotics, which according to something other than Wikipedia for a change,  are the good guy type of bacteria.  Probiotics are supposed to cure or reduce pretty much everything bad for your body.  At the least, they can help your digestive system do its job.  Which is great, because when I eat greasy, salty, high-fat foods such as this I demand that it all be healthy, daggummit!
How now, brown kraut?
 But that good bacteria can be killed by heat, so avoid cooking the life (literally) out of the kraut.  Instead, add it at the last minute, and heatjust long enough to get gently warmed.   If you don't care about probiotics or want to go for max flavor (or need to tend to other foods/kids/The Game), add the kraut, and simmer at least 15 minutes to absorb some of the liquid and flavor, or leave up several hours until ready to enjoy.   The kraut will turn brown, but taste quite marvelous.

Did you know that sauerkraut is really mad easy to make yourself?  Literally just two ingredients, cabbage and salt..  Note that neither is vinegar, which most people think gives kraut its tangy taste.   I do prefer homemade, but ( and I really promise this time, not like all those promises in the past, pinky swearing), if you can't fire up your time machine to put up some cabbage at least a month ago, the add-ins and beer will magically hide any store-bought taste.
Speaking of beer, I usually use whatever type I have on hand, but after careful quality-controlled experimentation along with quaffing many beers, I strongly suggest NOT to use an IPA or any other beer type with notes of citrus.  It totally clashes ... and not in a good way.  A dark stout is my fave, but pretty much any other non-light beer or ale works well.   Whichever you use, just remember that just like a fine wine, if it's ain't drinkable, don't cook with it!

Brats in Apple-Caraway Sauerkraut
Adapted from The Asbury Park Press (9/28/17) and from theHubby's cousin Sheila
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 (4-6 count) package of your favorite sausages or bratwurst
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bottle of beer, ale or stout (room temperature)
1 small apple, peeled, cored and small diced
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 (12 oz) pkg. of sauerkraut, rinsed well

All the photos used here are from about different batches,
using all sorts of sausages.
Cook the brats or sausages on a grill set at medium, or in a skillet over medium heat, turning every couple minutes until cooked through and evenly charred to your preference.  Remove and set aside; keep warm.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions; saute continuously for 5 minutes or until are softened and becoming translucent.

Add apple and caraway seeds; continue to saute for another minute or until apples just begin to lightly brown.  Carefully pour in beer.  Bring just to a simmer, then add sausages. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for at least 15 minutes.  If serving within 2 hours, reduce heat to low.  Otherwise transfer to a covered container and refrigerate up to two days.  When ready to serve, return the skillet, cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Just before ready to serve, add sauerkraut to skillet. Bring just to a bare simmer over medium-low heat.  Use tongs to transfer sauerkraut and sausages to plates.  Enjoy warm.