Growing up, we always ate some form of pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s Day. This varied from pork roast and kraut, ribs and kraut, hot dogs or sausage and kraut, to pork chops and kraut. Regardless of which type of pork we ate, mashed potatoes sat either on the side of or underneath our pork and sauerkraut. I asked my parents what they knew of this tradition, and both, with German and Irish roots, didn’t know necessarily why they ate this good luck dish, just that it was an important tradition. So I did a little digging.
Why pork? Here’s what I’ve learned:
- The pig roots forward when they eat unlike chicken and turkey which scratch back; pigs = progress
- Pigs do not look sideways or back; thus, we should also look forward
- Pork was far more common than beef in Germany
- Peasants who raised pigs slaughtered them in the fall; the freshest cuts of meat were available on New Year’s Day
- Pigs were considered sacred in old Irish religions
So why add sauerkraut?
- Cabbage is a late harvest crop; it takes 6-weeks for cabbage to become Kraut- just in time for the holidays
- Long pieces of kraut are a symbol of long life
- Some believe that fortune, health, and prosperity are tied to the number of sauerkraut shreds on the plate
The recipe I demonstrated on Fox 19 (TV video here) is simple, convenient, and features a family favorite, Keystone Meats. If you are unfamiliar with Keystone, it’s an Ohio based company and the product contains only two ingredients: meat and sea salt.
Good Luck Pork and Sauerkraut Recipe-
2 pounds Keystone pork
2 pounds sauerkraut, undrained
Salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced
Mashed potatoes, for serving (optional)
Applesauce, for serving (optional)
- Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet and sauté onion with salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Combine the meat, sauerkraut, onion and apple in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. When done, the pork will be fork-tender.
- Serve in bowls over mashed potatoes, or with applesauce on the side, if desired.
That’s it. Easy peasy! Make it ahead of time if you wish! It will still be tasty!
My parents still call me, long after I’ve left the house, to make sure I have some form of pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. It’s a tradition I gladly continue. What are your New Year’s Day foods for good luck, health, and fortune?
GO THERE (Fox 19; Kroger or Walmart for Keystone Meat)! TRY THAT (Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day)!