All Seasons Brats & Sauerkraut
9 cups drained sauerkraut (from 5 to 6 pounds packaged, not canned, sauerkraut)
1/4 pound smoked bacon* (preferably slab), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium-large onions, sliced thin
4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch -thick slices
5 1/2 cups Oktoberfest lager (44 ounces) such as Paulaner
1 cup chicken broth
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns or John Henry's "Mojave Garlic Pepper" rub
1 tablespoon vegetable oil if desired
1 3/4 pounds assorted smoked and precooked fresh sausages* (we used smoked kielbasa cut into thick slices, frankfurters, and baernwurst, and precooked fresh bratwurst, weisswurst , and chipolata)
a 1-pound piece smoked boneless pork loin (Canadian bacon)*, cut into 4 slices
12 uncooked bratwursts
two 12-ounce bottles of beer (not dark)
Accompaniment: coarse-grained mustard
Grill bratwursts on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals, turning occasionally, until cooked through and dark golden brown, about 20 minutes. Place grilled brats into pan with beer and keep warm.In a large bowl soak sauerkraut in cold water to cover 20 minutes, changing water once halfway through soaking.
While sauerkraut is soaking, in a large heavy skillet cook bacon pieces over moderate heat, stirring, until golden. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons drippings and add onions to bacon. Cook mixture, stirring, until onions are softened.
Drain sauerkraut well in a colander, pressing out excess liquid, and in a large flameproof roasting pan combine with bacon mixture, carrots, beer, broth, bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns.
Bring sauerkraut mixture to a boil on top of stove and boil 1 minute. Cover pan tightly with foil and braise in middle of oven 4 hours. Sauerkraut may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead, cooled, uncovered, and chilled, covered with plastic wrap.
Reheat sauerkraut before proceeding. If desired, in a heavy skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and in batches brown sausages. Add sausages and pork loin to sauerkraut, partially submerging them.