We had Pennsylvania Deutsch pork sauerkraut on New Year’s eve and on 1 January 2013. This is a traditional dish that is served in AB’s family, as well as amongst Pennsylvannia Dutch families, every New Year’s Day.
Today, it is more commonly known as “Pennsylvania Dutch pork sauerkraut” nowadays – as the word “Deutsch” (the German endonym) sounds like “Dutch” in English. In the 17th century, immigrants started arriving in Pennsylvania from Germany. You would have amongst them: Moravians from Bohemia and Moravia; Mennonites from Switzerland; French Huguenots from Alsace-Lorraine; etc.
The tradition of eating Pennsylvania Deutsch pork sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, ideally as the first meal of the day, stems from the superstition that doing so will bring good luck throughout the year. While chickens tend to scratch backwards and cows stay in position while looking for food or feeding, a pig would use its snout to dig in the ground in a forward direction. This idea of moving forward is regarded to be especially positive on the first day of the year. Plus, pigs, being typically plump and having plenty to eat, are often associated with prosperity and abundance.
Good to know that the Chinese are not the only ones to eat certain foods on the new year due to age-old superstitions related to good luck!
Preparing the Pennsylvania deutsch pork sauerkraut didn’t seem too difficult – AB was the chef and eager to show off a traditional dish from his part of the world. The main ingredients: Pork shoulder and sauerkraut.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, place it on a bed of sauerkraut and stick some black peppercorns and cloves amongst the cabbage bits. Cover the pork shoulder with a layer of sauerkraut, setting aside some for later. Cover the baking dish with a foil or a lid and put it into a preheated oven (200 degrees Celsius) and let it cook for an hour. Take it out from the oven and put half of the remaining sauerkraut over and around the pork shoulder. Replace the lid/cover and return the dish to the oven for another hour. Take it out again and repeat the previous step using the rest of the sauerkraut and back into the oven for one last hour of cooking.
Pennsylvania Deutsch pork sauerkraut is typically served with mashed potato. We gave it a Belgian spin by preparing stoemp, which is essentially mashed potatoes + another vegetable, such as green beans, carrots or leeks.
So, while waiting for the pork sauerkraut to be ready, start preparing the stoemp. We made ours with green beans and mashed it with the boiled potatoes with some olive oil, adding salt and pepper for taste.
This emerged from the oven after three hours of waiting:
Eh, where did the meat go? Voilà! According to AB, white wine is always drunk when eating Pennsylvania Deutsch pork sauerkraut.
Once ready to eat, be sure to have a bit of everything – pork, sauerkraut and stoemp – in each bite! It was delicious! And if there’s any leftovers, you can either reheat it or use it to make a sandwich. Guten appetit!