A sauerkraut recipe with a symphony of flavors

The Madison maestra offers up her authentic...
A sauerkraut recipe with a symphony of flavors

Timing is everything … in cooking as in art. I arrived at the home of Madison Symphony Orchestra and Madison Opera maestro John DeMain one time to conduct an interview–and was immediately seduced by some irresistible aromas coming from the kitchen. Before any discussion of upcoming programs, I received a quick lesson from the maestra, aka Barbara DeMain, about the rewards of making sauerkraut at home.

Barbara, you see, is from Germany. She met John during his Houston Grand Opera days, but said it was many years after her move to America before she resumed making her own kraut. What did it? “It started with our move to Madison, and then discovering Bavaria Sausage. The store was full of brands that I knew from home.”

She confesses that her favorite brat is the weisswurst, a veal brat (I second the motion), and says that the kraut goes better with more traditional brats. And for that matter, her absolute favorite combo is her sauerkraut with pork ribs.

Now we can all have it, too.

Barbara DeMain’s Sauerkraut

2 glasses of sauerkraut
1 glass of sauerkraut juice
1 lb. bacon, cut into cubes
1 onion
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
Salt and pepper as desired
8 pork ribs on the bone

— In a large pot simmer the bacon until browned, then add onions. Rinse the sauerkraut with water, drain, then add it to the bacon and onions. Add the fennel and caraway seeds.
— Stir in sauerkraut juice as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste, but remember that the sauerkraut juice already has a lot of salt in it.
— Simmer, stiring occasionally and continuing to add juice as needed.
— Brown the pork ribs in the oven, then add the ribs to the sauerkraut and
continue to simmer.
— After two hours the ribs should fall off the bone. Let everything cool down a bit, then refrigerate.
— Sauerkraut should be made one day in advance.
— Germans serve it with boiled potatoes and drink beer with it, but Barbara DeMain prefers sparkling wine.

Makes 2 meals of 4 servings each