Brett and I like sauerkraut, but it was forbidden territory with all four of our children. They would not go near it so it was rarely seen for years.
Pork chops with sauerkraut was a dish that always sounded delicious to Brett and me, but something that was never made in our home. During our stay in Strasbourg in 2018, Brett and I made a point of going out for charcroute garnie “dressed sauerkraut,” one of the most classic dishes from the Alsace region of France. While there is no fixed recipe for charcroute, traditionally it’s a big mound of sauerkraut topped with a variety of pork sausages, roasted and salted pork cuts (ham hocks, bacon, salt pork, etc.), and potatoes. We ate our charcroute for lunch, and kept our orders to just a variety of house-made Alsatian sausage; anything more would have been too much. While the sausages we ordered were delicious, the sauerkraut was out of this world, flavorful and crisp without being sour. It was a revelation.
Last fall I bought a jar of sauerkraut from Monkeypod Jam at their going-out-of-business sale, and put it away thinking that Brett and I would enjoy it after YaYu went back to school. However, I found a recipe for slow cooker/InstantPot version of pork chops with sauerkraut with the addition of bacon and apples, and asked YaYu if she would be willing to give it a try. She said that part of being a grown-up eater is that you try everything at least once, and that she was finally ready to try sauerkraut. She ended up having two servings of this recipe because she loved it so much! The sauerkraut was not sour, but mild and flavorful, with boosts of flavor from the smoky bacon, and a bit of sweetness from the carrots and apple. Monkeypod’s sauerkraut also contained caraway seeds, and although the recipe I used doesn’t call for them, they add another great bit of flavor to the dish and are a must-have for us now.
The original recipe also suggests the pork chops and sauerkraut be served with mashed potatoes, which we skipped, but I can imagine that along with a good German sausage or two this could be as close to charcroute garnie as we might get.
Rinsing and draining the sauerkraut is the first step, and the most important. Sauerkraut from a jar versus a can is best in my opinion. Our favorite is Wildbrine Organic – it’s nice and very crisp.
While the sauerkraut is draining, saute the bacon pieces, then add the carrots and onions and continuing cooking until onions are soft. (I was using an InstantPot, and did this part using saute function.)
Cover the sauerkraut mixture with apple slices.
Brown pork chops, and then place on top of the apples (the pork chops can also be browned in the InstantPot).
SLOW COOKER PORK CHOPS WITH SAUERKRAUT, BACON, and APPLES
- 3-4 boneless pork chops, 3/4″ – 1″ thick
- 2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 medium carrots, cut into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 32 ounces of fresh sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
- 1 TBSP caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 – 1/2 cup chicken broth (if using an InstantPot; use larger amount for a standard, the smaller amount for a Mini)
- 2 large apples, cored and quartered (can be peeled if desired as the peels will come off during the cooking)
- Mashed potatoes (optional)
Pour the sauerkraut into a strainer and rinse well with cool water, then let sit to drain for approximately 15 minutes (this step can be omitted if a stronger sauerkraut flavor is preferred). While the sauerkraut is draining, in a large frying pan, saute the bacon until it releases some fat, then add the carrot pieces and diced onion, and saute until the onion is soft. Add the garlic toward the end so that it doesn’t burn.
Place the sauerkraut in the bottom of the slow cooker, then add the bacon and vegetable mixer, and caraway seeds if using, and combine. Place the apple pieces over the top of the sauerkraut mixture.
Add the oil to a large frying pan, and lightly brown the outside of the pork chops. Place the chops on top of the apples. Cover and slow cook for 6-8 hours on low.
Serve with mashed potatoes, if desired.
If using an InstantPot, add the oil to the pot, and using the Saute function, lightly brown the pork chops on each side. Set aside. Continuing with the Saute function, cook the bacon, carrot pieces, onion, and garlic. Turn off Saute, mix in the drained sauerkraut (and caraway seeds, if using), top with apples, and place pork chops on top. Pour the chicken broth over the top.
Lock the lid, close the vent, and pressure cook on High for 15 minutes – anything shorter will make for some tough pork. If fall-apart tender pork is desired, set for 20 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining steam.