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Pork and sauerkraut 2012: Does bacon count as pork?

New Year's pork and sauerkrautBack on Dec. 28, Melanie Pancho was getting ready for the new year! She commented, in response to my traditional New Year’s question, “Got my sauerkraut a couple weeks ago, heading to the grocery store this morning for my pork. I love starting the year with a little bit of York County PA down here in Virginia Beach!”

Newer commenter Jennifer agrees, saying, “It is a must have… I buy a pork loin, put lemon pepper on it put it in a cooking bag with sauerkraut & potatoes and enjoy.”

But what if you’re, say, lacking in pork?

The YDR’s assistant news editor, Bruce Thiel, who is quickly becoming a regular commenter with some of the most fun insights around, said just before the big day, “Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I had never heard of using apples in the pork and sauerkraut until I moved to Carroll County, Md., some years back. Now when I make it, I use applesauce and a little brown sugar. It really takes the sour bite out of the sauerkraut. Last year, I had no pork, so I chopped up a summer sausage from a gift basket I received for Christmas! It worked just fine. Since moving to York County, I have discovered J. Hippy hot dogs, made by Denver Meats Co. in Denver, Pa. They are the best I’ve ever had. You can buy them at the Eastern Market. So, it’s going to be J. Hippys and sauerkraut this New Year’s.”

Bruce, you get an “E” for effort, but I’m no fan of kraut-dogs. (I think the summer sausage thing is a work of genius, though!)

For my part, our New Year’s Day main meal was “breakfast for dinner” with waffles and bacon. So … that’s pork, right? TOTALLY counts. (No sauerkraut for me, ever; I leave that to my husband.)

And of course, I was glad to hear from Jo Ott, who replied with her thoughts, in part after reading the question in Monday’s Ask Joan post about how to make Crockpot kraut with apples. “I do not like apples or anything else in my kraut – besides the pig, of course. I bake them together, covered initially, then remove the cover so both brown a little for about the last 30 minutes. Prior to baking I put the kraut in a sieve and rinse and drain it well to get rid of as much salt/brine as possible. I oven bake at 350 for about two hours plus another 1/2 hour or so to brown. This is for a small boneless roast. (Roast according to the size of meat purchased.) It is traditional, I thought, to eat pork & sauerkraut with mashed potatoes, placing a serving of potatoes on one’s plate and a serving of kraut on top of the potatoes so a bite of both can be eaten together. Truth be known there are as many ways to prepare & eat pork & sauerkraut as there are people who prepare & eat it. There’s no one right way to do it.”

Exactly right, Jo!

And if you’re interested, here’s some background on other New Year’s food traditions and some heated discussion from LAST new year about this local feast!

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