*Pork shoulder (also referred to as pork butt) is fattier than the pork loin that some people use for pork and sauerkraut. I like the former because it becomes fork tender and is harder to dry out than the leaner loin. If you prefer to use the loin cut, do so but check it early so as not to overcook. The internal temperature of the loin shouldn’t exceed 145℉.
**We enjoy a mix of tart and sweet apples, like Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. If you like the tangy sauerkraut flavor to shine through, lean towards tart apples. Conversely, opt for sweet apples if you prefer to reduce the tang. Recently, I added half the apples, sliced, in the last hour of cooking, which provided a nice mix of texture and flavor.
***Someone recently mentioned to me that she enjoys her sauerkraut crunchy, so she stirs it in at the end. I loved that idea, but to reap full flavor benefitsI added half of the sauerkraut at the beginning, and the other half just before serving, letting it sit a few minutes to warm through. To add yet another layer of texture and interest, I also added about 2-3 cups of thinly sliced green cabbage in the final hour of cooking. The results? I’ve never heard such rave reviews…even from the people who are typically ho-hum about this annual tradition!
***Some people prefer a higher ratio of sauerkraut to pork, especially if they shred the pork and mix it into the sauerkraut for serving. In this case, feel free to use 1½ to 2 times the amount of sauerkraut specified, increasing the brown sugar proportionately.
A few more options:
•As mentioned above, some people enjoy the addition of caraway seeds, but those who don’t enjoy this flavor may omit them. Someone once told me that she adds whole peppercorns instead, although some may not like the hard peppercorns lurking in the sauerkraut.
•One reader told me that her family likes it when she adds 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce instead of brown sugar, and that it adds a nice hint of color to the sauerkraut. (If using the optional rub, however, the paprika in it lends appealing color.)
•You may serve the apples as is or mash them with a fork, removing the skins, and blending them into the sauerkraut. If you prefer firmer apples, add them midway through the cooking time. If you would like slices, you could add them in the final hour.
•For those who appreciate the full-on tanginess of sauerkraut, use tart apples and omit the brown sugar.
•I’ve heard from readers and friends who use root beer or apple juice instead of wine or beer for the added sweetness.
Optional spice rub:
For an added layer of flavor, instead of simply salting and peppering the pork, sprinkle the trimmed pork shoulder with the following spice rub, and then cover and refrigerate the roast for up to 24 hours.
•2 teaspoons paprika (I use sweet, not smoked)
•1 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
•½ teaspoon each dried sage and dried thyme
•¼ teaspoon mustard powder
Combine in a small bowl, cover and store at room temperature until ready to use.