Pork and sauerkraut are a traditional German combination eaten on New Year's Day. The pork promises good luck and the cabbage greens symbolize money. The dish is easy to prepare and lends itself to a multitude of side dishes. Getting kids to appreciate this dish with strong flavors is a matter of serving sides that are familiar or fun.
Potatoes and Pasta
Simple mashed or boiled potatoes are a neutral accompaniment to pork and sauerkraut, but a more lively preparation like German potato salad made with hard-boiled eggs, crumbled bacon and a sweet and sour sauce is a classic side. If sweet and sour sauce doesn't tempt your picky kids, use a creamy dressing instead. A side of gnocchi or spaetzle might be outside your comfort zone, but both come packaged at the supermarket and only require boiling or reheating. A simple dish of wide egg noodles tossed with a little cream is a mild side dish that won't compete with the pork and kraut.
Since pork and sauerkraut tends to be a heavy meal with strong flavors, make a chilled salad to provide a counterpoint. A simple preparation of thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes refrigerated for a few hours before serving is a refreshing side dish. An easy green salad with a chilled creamy dressing serves the same purpose. Fruit salads are a fresh, healthy side. Make a Waldorf salad with apples, celery and walnuts or combine pineapple slices with shredded carrots. In place of the more traditional mayonnaise, try light ranch dressing in either of these salads.
Root vegetables are traditional sides with pork and sauerkraut, but turnips and rutabagas might be beyond your family's tolerance for strong flavors. Try boiling them until they're just tender and putting them in a pan with butter. Add brown sugar and cook until the butter and sugar coat the vegetables. You're adding calories and fat, but you're also adding flavor and introducing your family to a vegetable they may have turned their noses up at in the past. Applesauce is a traditional side with pork. Liven it up a little with a dusting of cinnamon or surprise the kids with the addition of a couple of cinnamon candies.
Lightening It Up
If you're watching calories or cooking for a picky family, lighten up your preparations and sides. Sauerkraut gets a bad rap for its strong flavor in some preparations. Rinse the kraut and squeeze out the excess liquid before you make your pork dish. Sweeten up the kraut by adding cut up apples or pears. Use a pork tenderloin instead of a fattier roast or country-style ribs and simmer it in sauerkraut until it's cooked through but not tough. Limit the number of heavy, starchy sides you serve with the meat by sticking with salads and fruit.
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