Layered sauerkraut catches me by surprise

IMG_0971I coordinate volunteers for the Frassati Supper, part of an outreach program for the poor and homeless at Vancouver’s downtown Proto-Cathedral of St. James the Greater.

About a year ago, I was short a head cook for the fourth Thursday of the month. Out of the blue, fellow parishioner Hana Adamko offered her services. Of course, I jumped.

“I only cook Old World meals,” she announced. I remember asking myself what that might mean.

cropped-small-plates-blog.pngBoy, was I in for an adventure, starting with chicken paprikash with homemade dumplings and most recently with a layered sauerkraut dish. I don’t like sauerkraut most of the time, but I found myself making the dish at home right after Hana made it for the 150 people we served Dec. 27. Our guests praised it, too. Plates came back clean. My husband loved it. I shared it with a friend who grew up in Bavaria. (The recipe calls for pork, bacon and sausage along with sauerkraut, onions and sour cream. His wife, a vegetarian, was out of town, and this was perfect timing.)

The Frassati Supper is part of the proto-cathedral’s Pier Giorgio Agape Ministry, an effort named in honor of the 24-year-old Italian man who died in 1925 from polio he likely contracted while visiting the sick. He was beatified in 1990. Our parish program began in December 2012. Besides the weekly supper, it also includes a closet for clothing distribution and a cupboard for food giveaways.

Washington mandates Point in Time, a count of the homeless each January. The tally for 2018 in Clark County was 795; for the state, 22,304.

Now if you think you can’t make a difference in the plight of the homeless, consider these numbers: In 2018, a group of volunteers working in our tiny church kitchen served 8,470 meals to the 6,209 people who signed in. (The difference between the numbers is from seconds and thirds some people requested.) It took the help of volunteers who put in 3,354 hours. (We average 27 volunteers — cooks, servers, dishwashers and greeters — per Thursday.) We also get donations from the Clark County Food Bank and Simply Sweets downtown. (Thank you.)

 fullsizeoutput_3063Hana’s layered sauerkraut 

  • 2-1/2 lbs sauerkraut
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 7 oz  smoked sausages, sliced
  • 3-1/2 oz smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1-2/3 cups sour cream
  • 1-1/2 + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tbsp oil

If you find the sauerkraut too sour, wash it. Squeeze all the liquid out of it. 

Rinse the rice and cook it in salty water

In a pan fry the sausages in a little oil. Set aside.

In another skillet fry the chopped bacon; when the bacon releases enough fat, add finely chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Add ground pork and fry until it turns white. Pour in a little water, sprinkle with paprika and summer savory, salt (1-1/2 tsp.) and pepper, cover and cook until tender. 

Grease a medium-sized casserole. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line the dish with one-third of the sauerkraut. Spread half of the rice, then half of the meat over the sauerkraut. Place half of the sausages on top of the meat and pour over half of the lard released by sausages. Now comes the half of the remaining sauerkraut, spread one-third of the sour cream over it evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining rice and meat, put the sausage slices and pour over the rest of the lard. Cover with the remaining sauerkraut and spread sour cream on top.

Place in the oven and cook for 45-50 minutes. Take out from the oven and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.


Janet Cleaveland

Janet Cleaveland

What happens when a retired journalist spends a lot more time in the kitchen than in past years? She tries new dishes and jumps at the chance to write a blog about food, family and good times. My kids are grown now, but I'll be looking back at how they learned to cook, what recipes my husband (the Intrepid One) and I are experimenting with, and how food and conversation make for happy times in the kitchen. I worked for The Columbian for 15 years as a copy editor and another 10 elsewhere, though I didn't start out as a journalist. I thought I wanted to teach English literature. My husband grew up in Clark County, and I've lived here since 1983. My kids have grown and left home. Like my husband of 52 years, our adopted chocolate Lab would never pass up a chance for a tasty meal.

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