Saturday, September 02, 2006


Sauerkraut and Bacon Strudel

When I was a small girl, I asked my mother where her family was from, as most children are apt to do at some point. Her very specific answer was that she grew up in the Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Being quite young at the time, (though precocious, I’m sure) and not really clear on what that meant, I figured we were Dutch. (For clarification, the Pennsylvania Dutch are Germans. Apparently back in the day, Americans couldn't figure out why Germans called themselves Deutsch, which is German for German, so the Americans assumed they meant they were from the Netherlands...get it?) A fact I held on to despite all indications otherwise until I was roughly 21 years old, when it dawned on me one day that there was just no way we could be Dutch.

How come? Well, for one, there were no Dutch foodstuffs or traditions in our house, there is no visual indication we hail from there, we own no wooden clogs and the biggest give-away? My mothers maiden name is German.

On the other hand, the signs pointing to the fact she is of German ancestry is glaring. Mommy loves Klosterkaese cheese and liverwurst, has been known to indulge in pickled pigs feet and makes vats of sauerkraut every year. She lingers over strudel and sauerbraten and cannot resist a thin slice of German Chocolate Cake. That old Dutch favorite, Kabeljauw met kaaskorst on the other hand, never once appeared on our table.

The upshot here is that I’m not Dutch. But hey, that’s okay by me. You can’t be everything, right? And it does make for a telling story, doesnt it? Giggle. (Telling that I am a space cadet perhaps?)

That all being said, it is no surprise that when I first heard of Sauerkraut Strudel I knew I had to try it. It simply called out to my mostly neglected inner German, begging to be made.

Yes, it's more calories, fat and salt than one person should consume in a day, let alone a sitting, but it sure as heck tastes amazing.

While it may not be the most glamorous looking dish, it sure makes up for it in fantasticness. Cabbagey (in a good way! And I do love my cabbage!) with the sharp bite of the caraway seeds, and the salty meatiness of bacon, balanced with the potato and the sweet onion, it is a delight. Of course, I don’t recommend having it too often unless you are a marathon runner , but every here and again, it is a sheer delight and will make you silly with happiness. I didnt have the patience to try strudel dough, so I made it with phyllo, but of course either works. Try it, and enjoy.

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
6 thick cut slices of bacon, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, large dice
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
4 sheets phyllo dough
3 teaspoons butter, melted
Sour cream for serving

Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and mash lightly with a fork, leaving some large pieces.

In a large pan, saute the bacon, onion and bay leaf until just browned, about 6 minutes (drain the pan of fat half way through if it is pooling deeply)

Remove the bay leaf from the bacon mixture. Add the bacon mixture to the potatoes, along with the pepper caraway and sauerkraut. Stir to combine. You can keep this in the fridge for up to 24 hours if you want to stop at this point.

Lay out one sheet of your phyllo and brush with the melted butter. Continue to do that with all four sheets. Do not butter the top sheet.

Pile the bacon-sauerkraut mixture onto the phyllo and roll it up like a log and seal, making sure the seam is on the bottom. If you need to, use a bit of extra phyllo to cover the ends so the insides are not exposed.

Bake on a baking sheet for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving. It will be a bit soggy, but never fear, its supposed to be. I am not sure how it would be with real strudel dough, but my guess is, less soggy.

Serve with sour cream.

Makes 8 servings


Klosterkaese is a surface-ripened, German cow's milk cheese with a velvet-like texture and a mild taste.

Sauerkraut is German for "Acid Cabbage." Americans consume 387 million lbs (one billion servings or approx. 1.5 lbs per person) each year, with a quarter of all households purchasing it.

According to a new study, 31 states showed an increase in obesity this year. Mississippi continued to lead the way. An estimated 29.5 percent of adults there are considered obese. That's an increase of 1.1 percentage points when compared with last year's report. Colorado remains the leanest state. About 16.9 percent of its adults are considered obese. That mark was also up from last year's report, but not enough to be considered statistically significant. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut and Montana also recorded adult obesity rates of less than 20 percent. The only state that experienced a decrease in the percentage of obese adults was Nevada. The five states with the highest obesity rates -- Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana and Kentucky – also exhibit much higher rates of poverty than the national norm.

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Wow...that looks so yummy! Bacon...power move :)
Rachel - I'm moving back home to Estonia in October after seven years in Scotland, and that means that I will be cooking lots and lots of sauerkraut during the coming months (sauerkraut is a staple food during winter months back home)! Usually I make soup (have blogged about 2 versions so far) or a simple stew, but a strudel sounds so much more elegant. Thanks for the recipe!
Speaking as a half Dutchy (not deutschy), you will always be welcome by my people. Hope to see you soon my dear.
I love your story ;) An Austrian acquaintance used to make this for special occasions, and I hate to call her just to ask her to translate a recipe for me - so very glad to find this!
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