Growing up, many family birthday celebrations were at Grandma’s house (the German one I told you about with a stomach of steel). She had two dishes that she usually made: pork with sauerkraut or beef sauerbraten with potato pancakes. I never thought much about dinner though; I just knew there was going to be a cake from Wilson’s bakery after dinner, with whipped topping and chocolate shavings. It was the best. It looked a lot like this in case you are curious.
The birthday dinners at Grandma’s house slowly dwindled as we got a little older. Probably because I wanted to go to sophisticated places like TGIFriday’s and get balloons tied in my hair on my birthday. But leading up to my 25th birthday, I decided I wanted one of Grandma’s celebration dinners, and I wanted to learn how to make it. She asked me if I wanted the beef or the pork and I couldn’t remember which one I liked better. She decided on the beef sauerbraten with potato pancakes. Well, I didn’t quite learn how to make it because the beef takes three days to ferment in wine, which she had to do before, and the potato pancakes were a whole other story. Let’s just say I got pushed out of the kitchen because I wasn’t making them according to Gram’s standards!
The sauerbraten and potato pancakes were delicious, but then came the craving for the pork and sauerkraut. I haven’t had the chance to make that dish with her yet, but living in the German part of Switzerland, I am constantly running into sauerkraut. I finally bought some that looked fresh and homemade at the farmer’s market, with determination to make something delicious with it. My Grandma’s pork dish popped in my head, so I started researching some recipes and combined a few to my liking.
And now I have my own pork and sauerkraut dish to share with the world! I have made this several times now, and it turns out, even the sauerkraut averse love this dish. Plus, it is incredibly easy to make. Much easier than potato pancakes.
This slow cooker German pork might not the prettiest of them all, but it’s what’s inside that counts, right?
All you do is sauté the onions, apples, and thyme together.
You place the sauerkraut and pork in the slow cooker (and caraway seeds if using).
Rub the pork with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper all over. Then pour the wine, maple syrup, and apple onion mixture on top. Close the lid, turn it on, and in 8-10 hours you have perfect pork.
You won’t even be in the kitchen long enough for Gram to kick you out of it.
- 2 lbs // 800 grams organic pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dry
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
- 2 cups // 300 grams fresh sauerkraut
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2-3 sweet apples of choice, cored and diced
- ½ cup // 125 mL dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- In a medium pan, warm the olive oil and sauté the onions, fresh thyme, and apples until the onions are translucent.
- While the onions are cooking, trim the big pieces of fat from the pork shoulder. Place the sauerkraut* in the bottom of the slow cooker and the pork shoulder on top of the sauerkraut. Rub the pork shoulder with a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the apple onion mixture around the outside of the pork. Pour the white wine into the pan and scrape off any of the browned bits that are stuck at the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine into the slow cooker along with the maple syrup. Cover and let cook for 8-10 hours on low-medium, or until you can shred the pork easily with a fork. Serve as is, or over your choice of potatoes.
- *If you want the probiotic properties of sauerkraut, buy the raw kind with live bacteria. Then use half of the sauerkraut in the slow cooker and use the rest for serving.