This is How My Mind Works

I’ve been trying hard to re-adjust my thinking about cooking and shopping to eliminate impulse purchases. When I’m shopping and see a surprise savings or something that’s “but it’s such a good deal”, I ask myself if I have a recipe lined up to use it in. Ninety-nine percent of the time, my answer is “no” and I’m able to pass the item up. However, as I’ve said in a past post, you can take the girl out of the Midwest but the reverse is not always true.

So I was at the store the other day and deviated from my list when I saw a good brand (not easy in So Cal) of Summer Sausage on sale. This reminded me that a while back I had frozen some country-style ribs. So I thought of ribs and kraut! This is how my mind works. Show me a Midwestern food memory and I’m on the recipe trail to Wisconsin. So I bought a can of sauerkraut. The sauerkraut I purchased was Safeway brand. Since I’m trying to save money I eschewed my regular brand in a glass jar or at least Libby’s brand canned. I saved $0.50. Okay, in the grand scheme of things that’s not much, but if you add a lot of these kinds of savings together, they add up.
Ribs, sauerkraut and potatoes...yum!
Unfortunately I also forgot my Minestrone disaster where I substituted a name brand of tomatoes that I was used to for a generic store brand. If you’ll recall it was a triumphant failure. I tossed the whole batch. So for a small savings I lost the cost of all the other ingredients plus my time...lesson still not learned.

When I opened the kraut, it had a very sharp, vinegar scent to it. I debated about using it or not and finally decided to go ahead and see what would happen in the end. I mean, since I had flavored ribs (see Notes and Observations below) I wasn’t exactly following the recipe to the letter now, was I? In the end, I added a teaspoon of Wyler’s chicken crystals to the dish and let it simmer a bit longer, stirring now and then.

As I’d hoped, the potatoes broke up a bit and mixed into the kraut, it was just enough to soften the “bite” of this can of kraut. Overall though, I was quite happy with the results.

Spareribs and Sauerkraut for One in February
3-4 Country-style spareribs (approx. 1.5” {3.82 cm} x 1.5” or 2.0” {5.08 cm} x 4-5.00” {10.16-12.7 cm})
1-2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 c. White Vermouth
2 medium to large New or Rose White potatoes, skin on or off (your preference) sliced in 1/8” rounds
14 oz. can of Sauerkraut (414 mL)
1/4 c. water
4 Qt. oven proof kettle or Dutch oven
Put oil in pan and warm. Add ribs and brown on all sides (2-3 minutes per side). Remove and set aside. Add vermouth and de-glaze all the brown bits in the pan, cooking on high and stirring till reduced by half. 

Layer the potato slices (in 2 layers as necessary) in pan. Bring to a quick boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 minute.  Remove lid, add ribs and cover all with the sauerkraut.

Add water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. I check on the simmer every 10 minutes so it’s not too high or low. Judiciously add water if needed while cooking. An easier way would be to simply put pan in preheated oven (325F/ C) for 1 hour vs. cooking on the stovetop. When cooking on the stovetop, I do stir gently so it doesn't burn.

Notes and Observations:
Average weight per potato = 3.5 oz. (99.2g)
Normally I use unseasoned ribs.The ribs I used this time were “rescued” from the freezer so I didn't notice that they were seasoned with my Barbeque rub until they were thawed. I rinsed the ribs a bit and patted them dry but because I froze them with the rub, it pretty much permeated the meat. Although, after cooking, it really wasn't that noticeable.
I might add some dried juniper berries next time. If you like, you might also add caraway seeds. Personally, I only like them in rye bread! I was quite happy with the end result and I have enough for dinner tomorrow!

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