Every fermentista I know has a batch of kraut that languishes in the back of the refrigerator—the place where the orange marmalade jar (a gift from Aunt Zelda who visited Great Britain a few years ago), prickly pear pickles (she went to Arizona last year), and the unloved krauts reside. Sometimes the rotation in the back of the fridge is longer than anyone of us would care to admit and we don’t have to.
So this kraut, stepchild that it is, is technically good—as in, it isn’t rotten. It tastes fine, creamy even—as in too soft.
We could go into the why is my kraut soft? But this post isn’t about the why. It is about solving the dilemma of a kraut that you don’t want to throw out and don’t want to eat. This is normal. Many of us get very attached to our batches of live food and we feel terrible, like we have let them down, by sending them into the compost pile.
There is help. It is Springtime, time to purge the old krauts to make way for all the delicious fermentation that you will be doing with the spring vegetables that are bursting forth from the waking ground. While I have no tricks for the marmalade or cactus pickles, I can share some ideas for the soft kraut.
Use soft textured krauts in dishes where a soft texture is appropriate and pleasing to the palate. A scoop of the kraut cooked in a stew is one example. Because eggs are also so abundant this time of year one idea is a frittata. (Should I admit there are 16 dozen duck and chicken eggs in our refrigerator as I write this?)
A frittata is essentially a flat omelet that has the stuffing baked into it. It has the flamboyance of a quiche without the work or the gluten of the crust.
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be varied easily just by changing the type of kraut. And it is important to say—this is delicious with perfectly crisp kraut as well. Please feel free to play with this recipe; change up the kraut flavors or the herbs. For a richer dish, add smoked salmon or Italian sausage.
1 ½ cups raw sauerkraut, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
pinch of salt and pepper
a scant ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
optional: 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until caramelized, set aside.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper, nutmeg, the second tablespoon of oil and the garlic. Beat lightly.
Gently squeeze the kraut to remove most, but not all, of the liquid. Stir the kraut and the cooled caramelized onions into the egg mixture. This is also the point to add the optional salmon or sausage.
Preheat a well-oiled 10-inch heavy skillet on medium-low heat. Melt the butter in the skillet and pour in the egg-kraut mixture. This will set the bottom nicely. Immediately transfer to the preheated oven.
Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until set.
Remove from oven and sprinkle optional parmesan on top.