Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soul Food Sauerkraut

Say what?
     I was working for a great French chef at a cafe in Florida when I created this recipe.  We hosted fashion shows in the cafe during the day shift.  I was the day chef.  I ran an aggressive special du jour board each day.
     We cooked a few German specials du jour during the fall season for Octoberfest.  November came quickly and we had a few big jars of imported German sauerkraut leftover from the Octoberfest menu items.  The French chef asked me to run a special du jour that would require sauerkraut, so we could rotate the stock for the next season.  My response to the chef was in jest.  I said to the chef, "How about Soul Food Sauerkraut!" as he was walking by.  He stopped and turned to face me.  He was trying to keep from laughing.  The French chef said to me, "That is a good idea!"  He stood there like he was thinking of how to put the Soul Food Sauerkraut plate together.  I said to him before he could speak, "Let me handle it, I have an idea!"
     We had all of the ingredients to put this plate of Soul Food Sauerkraut together, except for collard greens.  I went next door to the food market and bought a few bunches of fresh collard greens.  We made our own stocks and bouillons, so we had ham hocks, hog jowls and pigs feet that we cooked to make ham stock.  We had ribs and chicken too.  I always kept okra in stock to make gumbo with.  French and German sauerkraut recipes use all kinds of different cuts of pork meat.
     When I received the first order of Soul Food Sauerkraut for a customer, I called the French chef over to take a look at the plate and to get his approval.  The chef looked at me with a straight face and said, "Cook another order of Soul Food Sauerkraut for the customer.  This one is mine!"  He walked to his office with the plate of Soul Food Sauerkraut and I did not see the chef for an hour.  When he came out of his office, he carried a plate of bones to the dishwasher.  As he passed by, he said, "It was very good!"
     I sold every bit of sauerkraut that we had in stock at that restaurant that day.  The Soul Food Sauerkraut special du jour was a success!  The customers loved it!

     Georgia BBQ Sauce Recipe:  
     This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce!
     Place 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar into sauce pot.
     Add 2 cups of water.     
     Add 4 tablespoons of ground guajillo chile powder.     
     Add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper.     
     Add 2 tablespoons of paprika.     
     Add sea salt and black pepper.     
     Add 1/4 cup of tomato puree.     
     Add 1 ounce of cider vinegar.     
     Add 1/2 ounce of white vinegar.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of dry mustard.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder.     
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder.     
     Add a 4 or 5 drops of red food coloring.     
     Place the sauce over low heat.     
     Simmer the sauce till the flavors meld.  Wait till the sauce cooks for 30 minutes before tasting or the flavors will not taste right.  The sauce should be mildly spicy, tangy and not sweet.  The BBQ sauce should have a dark red brown color.  The sauce should be reduced slowly to a medium thin sauce consistency.  Add water if the sauce becomes too thick.     
     Georgia Style BBQ Ribs Recipe:
     This recipe make a full order of spare ribs.  Only a couple of ribs are needed for the sauerkraut recipe.  
     Place a section of a spare rib rack on a wire rack in a baking pan.  (About 8 to 10 ribs on a spare rib section is a good portion.)
     Generously brush the sauce on the spare rib rack.
     Slow smoke the ribs over an open pit BBQ or in a smoker at 250º.  (Use an oven at 250º if you do not have an open pit BBQ or a smoker.)
     Flip the ribs and baste with the sauce while the ribs slow cook.
     When the sauce starts to darken and the ribs are tender, then the ribs are done cooking.  (The meat should be tender and juicy, but not quite ready to fall off of the bones.)
     Place the rib rack on a cutting board.
     Cut between the bones to completely separate each rib.
     Heat a char grill or cast iron grill over medium/medium high heat.  (You can place the ribs under a broiler in an oven on a broiler pan, if you are cooking indoors.)
     Place the ribs on a char grill and brush them lightly with the BBQ sauce.
     Char grill and finish cooking the ribs. 
     Brush the ribs with the sauce a few times. 
     (If you are using an oven, set the broiler to high heat and place the ribs on a baking pan and brush them with the sauce.  Broil the ribs to finish cooking.)
     Do not burn or char the ribs!  The char grill step is just to add fresh BBQ flavor and give the ribs that glazed BBQ rib eye appeal.
     Set the finished ribs on a platter and keep them warm.

     Collard Greens and Smoked Ham Hock Recipe:

     Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 pats of unsalted butter or 1 tablespoon of bacon grease.
     Add 1/4 cup of small chopped onion.
     Cook the onions, till they become a caramelized brown color.
     Add 2 pinches of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 1 smoked ham hock.
     Add enough water to cover the ham hock.
     Bring the broth to a boil over high heat.
     Reduce the temperature to medium/low heat.
     Simmer the ham hock.
     Wash about 5 to 6 large leaves of fresh collard greens with cold running water.  Trim off any damaged parts of the leaves.  Cut the thick veined ends of the collard leaves off and discard them.  (The thick plant veins will be tough and chewy no matter how long you cook the greens.  So it is best to trim them off.)   Take the smaller collard leaves and split them down the middle, splitting the leaf vein in half.  Do the same for the larger leaves, but cut the large leaves into 4 large pieces.
     When the smoked ham hock broth is reduced to half of the height of the ham hock, add the collard greens.
     Gently press the greens into the hot broth with a wooden spoon, as the leaves wilt.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Cover the pot.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
     Take the lid off of the pot occasionally to gently "turn the collard greens from the bottom of the pot to the top.
     After 2 hours, the greens will start to become tender.
     Check to see that there is enough "pot liquor" in the pot.  It may be necessary to add a splash of water while simmering, but do not dilute the pot liquor broth!  The broth has to be rich, so the flavors meld together.
     When the collards are done cooking, there should be barely enough pot liquor to cover the greens.
     Keep the greens warm. 
     Roasted Trotter and Chicken Wing:
     Season 1 trotter that is cut in half lengthwise with sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.  (Trotters are also known as pigs feet.)
     Lightly brush 1 chicken wing with the Georgia style BBQ sauce.
     Set the seasoned trotter and chicken wing in the same roasting pan.
     Bake in a 300º oven.
     The chicken wing will finish baking first, so remove it from the pan and set it aside.  
     Bake the trotter till the meat inside is completely cooked.  Do not bake the trotter till it is browned, or the juices inside will dry out.
     Set the trotter aside after it becomes fully cooked.
     Soul Food Sauerkraut:
     Rinse about 10 to 12 ounces of good quality German sauerkraut twice with water.
     Place the sauerkraut in a casserole baking dish.
     Add 1 handful of sliced okra to the sauerkraut.
     Season the sauerkraut with black pepper.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of cayenne pepper.
     Take the excess broth (pot liquor) from cooking the collard greens and pour it over the sauerkraut.
     Place 1 thick slice of smoked hog jowl on the sauerkraut.
     Place the trotter and the chicken wing on top of the sauerkraut.
     Place the reserved smoked ham hock from cooking the collard greens on top of the sauerkraut.
     Place a small mound of the collard greens on the sauerkraut.
     Cover the casserole dish.
     Bake the casserole in a 325º oven for 45 minutes.
     Remove the casserole dish from the oven.
     Raise the temperature of the oven to 350º.
     Remove the cover from the casserole dish.
     Bake the casserole uncovered this time, so the meats will get some roasted color.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
     Heat the Georgia Style BBQ ribs in the oven at the same time.
     Brush the ribs with the BBQ sauce, so they do not dry out.
     After the soul food sauerkraut ingredients are done baking, set the casserole on a counter top.
     Set the meats and the mound of collard greens aside.
     Use a slotted spoon to set a bed of the sauerkraut and okra on a plate.
     Place the collard greens on the center of the sauerkraut.
     Set the trotter, smoked hog jowl, smoked ham hock and the chicken wing around the collard greens on top of the sauerkraut.
     Set the BBQ ribs on the sauerkraut too.
     Garnish the collard greens with a couple of pickled hot peppers.
     The flavors of this soul food sauerkraut recipe are superb!  The meat juices and the collard green's pot liquor give the sauerkraut a very savory flavor.  The collard greens do take on some of the sauerkraut flavor.  There is not much meat in a trotter, but the glutinous fat inside is a pleasure to nibble on.  Same for the smoked ham hock.  The streak of meat in the smoked hog jowl is a pleasure to eat too.
     The chicken wing and Georgia BBQ ribs really add a great flavor to this plate of food.  The okra slices are tender and have the sauerkraut's flavor too.  This is a great tasting German soul food recipe!  Or, this is a great soul food recipe with German sauerkraut!  No matter how you describe this dish, it is yummy!         

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