Formulating an opening statement has been a monster hurdle. I’ve trashed quite a few in the past two decades since registering this site, so, how about a nicht-opening statement.
Nothing clever nor particularly articulate, (pardon me, but the timer rang, reminding me to start boiling speckig potatoes and set three day old sauerkraut to simmer with the blood and liver wurst) but, that’s par for the course.
Some distraction always pops up, and I’m off, down another rabbit hole. So, bear with me while I try to gather the threads of this wandering epistle that makes up the Chaos Cooking Club.
My safe room has always been a kitchen.
Ok, not always a kitchen.
It’s been a contraption built of weathered orange crates and pitch oozing boards, the warmth of my father’s huge range, a two burner hot plate on top of a washer in the basement of a townhouse in Georgetown, a VW van nestled on a slope of the Rif, a tiny wood burning farm stove under the eaves of the sole remaining structure of a former konzentration camp holding Polish slaves set to building power dams a few kilometers from the town where Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, or elegant homes in the hills overlooking the San Francisco bay.
Timer rang again. Potatoes are almost done.
Sauerkraut always tastes best when it’s a few days old. Especially when warmed up with one blood wurst (for Gustav) and two leberwuerste (one for each of us). The trick is to keep the sauerkraut on the bottom of the pot; place the wurst on top and keep the heat low, otherwise the wurst will burst open and the insides will spill out into the kraut, which won’t change the great taste, but it will make it messy to serve. And look more than a bit nasty.
Most dishes start with an onion.
Half an onion, chopped, in a medium sized pan on medium heat. Doesn’t matter what kind of fat or oil you use to fry the onions; I’ve often used lard in the past, but I cannot stomach it any more, so I use canola oil. While the onions are turning a golden brown, open a big can of sauerkraut (if you make your own, fantastic, if you can find it fresh at your favorite market, also excellent, otherwise, canned is perfectly acceptable).
I keep a marble morser and stoessel with crushed caraway on hand at all times. To keep the aroma from overpowering my kitchen, slip it into a plastic bag, twist the opening and tuck the ends under the foot. I throw about half a teaspoon of crushed caraway in the onions and let them sizzle a little before adding the sauerkraut, two bay leaves, leftover bacon rind, and whatever meat is on hand to the pot. This time I had two nice smoked pork chops, though it can be pork neck or shoulder. Whatever. You don’t need meat to make this savory dish, but some water or vegetable broth is necessary to keep it from burning. Simmer for around 45 minutes, till done. One variation I particularly enjoy is using less liquid and letting it evaporate until the pot starts to sizzle. Then, when it’s nice and brown on the bottom, add more liquid and let simmer till done. Umami pur.
The second time around is best with wurst. There were a few pieces of smoked bacon and rind left over - usually we divide them between us, though this time, Gustav got the rind and I got the bacon because he got two wuerste and I got my favorite, leberwurst.
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