All Seasons Brats & Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • 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

    Directions

    Preparation

    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.
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