This is a Transylvanian dish that will either sound delicious or disgusting, I am guessing, depending on how much affection you hold for sauerkraut and smoked pork products. I am personally 100% on the delicious side and given how quickly this disappeared into second and third servings at our Christmas Eve table, I’d say others agreed.
Walking into the Polish delis around our home in Chicago and smelling smoked sausages is guaranteed to put a smile on my face. I love seeing sauerkraut still sold in barrels, though these days they have special plastic containers lining them. That’s when you really know you’re in a Eastern European immigrant neighborhood.
Some people may find this sort of cuisine too heavy and sour – I’m guessing they’ve had it sloppy cafeteria style. This particular recipe is a well balanced dish that doesn’t overdo the fat or the brine, and made ahead the melding of the different seasonings is especially delicious.
- 3 Tbsp. bacon fat or cooking oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 small)
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 lb. smoked bacon, thick cut or Canadian bacon, cut into 1/4″ dice
- 1/2 lb. Hungarian or other smoked sausage, cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1/4 cup white rice, regular or instant
- 2 lbs. canned or fresh sauerkraut (prefer plastic bags or glass jars)
- 1 cup sour cream
- Start by prepping the meats (see photo above with diced and sliced smoked pork products) and onions. You’ll be making all the meat into separate batches and layering it with the sauerkraut, so you should also drain and rinse the sauerkraut as a prep step and set it aside to drain out thoroughly.
- In a small pan, prepare the rice by parboiling it for 10 minutes (if you are using regular rice).
- Set up your pans to cook your meat layers:
- Cook the onion in the bacon fat, then add the ground pork. Cook until browned, then add the seasonings. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- In another pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until it starts to render fat, then add the sausage slices and cook another 5 minutes or until both meats are lightly browned.
- Preheat the oven to 325° and grease a 3 quart baking dish (I used an 8 cup souffle pan, but the recipe recommends a larger dish if possible). Arrange your meat fillings and rinshed, drained sauerkraut on the table and assemble in these layers:
- 1/3 of the sauerkrat
- sausage & bacon
- 1/3 of the sauerkraut, dot with sour cream
- sprinkle on the rice
- ground pork mixture
- 1/3 of the sauerkraut
- mix 1 cup of water into the ground pork pan and stir into 1 cup of sour cream. spread over the top.
- Bake in the center of the oven, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours, or until the edges pull away and the topping is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes. Tastes best made ahead and reheated.