Last week a co-worker of mine brought in sauerkraut and sausage to share at lunch. (There really is no better way to torment a student body than with a staff full of cabbage). So I was telling my husband about it, because he also loves sauerkraut, and instead of saying, “Oh yeah, you should make that,” he was like, “You know what sounds good? Brats…with sauerkraut.” Ok, but I didn’t want to buy a big jar of kraut only to use a spoonful or two on a brat, so I began googling some creative ways to use up the rest of the jar after brat night. I found a recipe for Bacon, Cabbage, and Beer Braised Pork Loin and used that for my inspiration.
This stew, for lack of a better descriptor, turned out AMAZING. It was incredibly flavorful. The kraut gave it a tang, but the tomato paste sweetened it. It does not have a sauerkrauty taste, so you can serve it to even the toughest kraut critic. I cooked mine in the crockpot, but you could simmer it on the stove just as easily. When I realized it was turning out as a stew-like consistency, I decided to serve it over mashed potatoes. My husband said, “this is the best stew you’ve ever made.” So there.
Sweet and Tangy Beef and Cabbage Stew
2-2.5 lbs beef stew meat (or cut up a chuck roast or rump roast into 1-inch hunks)
4 teaspoons paprika, divided into two
2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1-2 Tbsp cooking oil
6-7 slices of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 – 32 oz. jar of sauerkraut (minus the two spoonfuls my husband used on his brats the night before)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle dark beer (I used Oktoberfest)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1. In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon sage, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Put the stew meat in a large mixing bowl or gallon-sized and sprinkle the rub mixture and mix or shake around so that the meat is coated.
3. Heat oil in a pan and, when hot, brown the stew meat. Do this in batches if necessary. Set aside.
4. In the same pan, brown the chopped bacon. When bacon is mostly cooked, add the garlic and onion and cook another 2-3 minutes over medium heat until onion is slightly browned. Also, lean in and enjoy the smell. What could smell better than bacon, garlic, and onion all sizzling away in a skillet? The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing.
5. Next, add sauerkraut, tomato paste, beer, mustard, and remaining spices to the bacon and onion mixture and stir to combine. Heat through (another 3-5 minutes).
6. Combine sauerkraut mixture and beef in crockpot. Cook 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. You’ll know it’s ready when the beef is tender enough to be broken up with a fork.
**I served this over mashed potatoes with a side of homemade beer bread. It would also taste great over egg noodles, or in a bowl as a stand-alone stew.