This is kind of a funny recipe. It takes the “and the kitchen sink” approach toward sauerkraut. This version starts with packaged sauerkraut, then braises is with two kinds of apples, onions, shallots, slab bacon, Riesling, chicken stock, thyme, juniper berries, and a bay leaf. It was already getting a bit busy flavour-wise at this point, but we’re not done. Once the braise is finished the sauerkraut is tossed with two cups of heavy cream, and some apple schnapps. Thankfully the cream and schnapps were optional, and I opted for only the schnapps. I get the impression that the people at The Book looked up every traditional sauerkraut ingredients from every culture that makes it, and tossed them all into one recipe.
The main problem with the dish was the word sauerkraut. If it had been called stewed cabbage with apples, bacon, and cream it would have been fine. But sauerkraut should as a minimum be sour. In this version the sauerkraut is soaked and drained twice to get rid of a lot of the salt, but also a lot of the flavour. All of the braising ingredients are there to mellow the harsh bite of the sauerkraut, but at least the stuff I bought was pretty smooth after the rinsing. All the sweet ingredients just overwhelmed the remaining flavour of the sauerkraut. There were also far too many flavours competing here, some of the comments on the epicurious version of the recipe suggest that adding the cream would have tied it together, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
This recipe simultaneously had too many ingredients, and not enough. The flavours were a jumble, but it was drastically in need of some more acid to cut all the sweetness. On a positive note the thyme, juniper, bay leaf combination worked very well, and bacon makes everything taste good.
I guess the recipe was fine, and if I’d had some more potent sauerkraut as a starting ingredient maybe all the sweet additions would have been a nice compliment. As it was the dish was going in too many directions at once, and tried to do too much. All of the additions ended up taking away from what makes sauerkraut good in the first place.