Oh my! My lovely children and wife got me a fermenting crock for father’s day. Somehow, they knew exactly what I wanted! ;) I wanted to try my hand at making sauerkraut and what better food to make with my first batch of sauerkraut than some delicious Reuben Sandwiches!
Polski Ogorki Cucumbers
I made my first batch of pickled cucumbers last season. I used a Polski Orgorki pickling recipe, as those are my favourite pickled cucumbers. Unfortunately, I was a little heavy-handed on the salt, but the overall flavour and texture of the pickles is good. On advice from a friend, I drained most of the liquid and replaced it with fresh water after trying them and realising that they were too salty. The pickles are still quite salty, but replacing the pickling liquid with fresh water definitely reduced the saltiness.
The pickling mix consisted of whole-grain mustard, black pepper corns, garlic cloves, dill stems with flowers/seeds, vinegar, salt and water.
I’ve made sauerkraut once before, using a large glass jar and a makeshift weight, consisting of a bag full of porcelain-ball blind-baking weights, to keep the cabbage down under the level of the liquid. That didn’t go quite to plan, as the mouth of the jar was quite small, and it was really difficult to get the weights out without ripping the plastic bag and spilling the porcelain balls into the sauerkraut. My wife’s blind-baking weights now smell a little krauty…. whoops!
I asked for a proper fermenting crock for father’s day. The crock has a water-seal rim, into which the lid sits. You pour water into the moat around the lid, and this lets any built-up carbon-dioxide escape, without letting air or anything else into the fermenting chamber.
Thankfully the fermenting crock comes with specially shaped ceramic weights, which work far better than my make-shift weight.
I cut up my cabbage, mixed in caraway seeds, mustard seeds and pickling salt, then pressed the cabbage firmly into the fermenting crock, then covered the cabbage with water. Lastly, I placed the ceramic weights on top of the cabbage to keep everything under the water and left it for two weeks.
Two weeks later, and the sauerkraut is ready.
The sauerkraut was good, but needs some work. I think I under-salted the sauerkraut, which actually worked well on the sandwiches, with the over-salted pickles. Everything balanced out nicely.
These were so good! I bought a corned beef and cooked it up using a St Patrick’s Day Corned Beef recipe I found on the web. I’ve made this recipe before, and it really is a good one.
One thing to note about me is that I seldom follow recipes I find to the letter. Usually I look up two or three recipes to get a rough outline of how to prepare whatever it is I’m cooking. I then make up my own variant of the recipe (and method) based on the bits I like from the recipes I’ve looked up… and based on the ingredients I have at hand.
For this one, I left out the carrots, potatoes and cabbage, seeing as I was only making the corned beef for sandwiches and not a full meal. The flavour of this corned beef is great! I usually cook it in a large Le Creuset pot and bake it in the oven.
I had never heard of Russian dressing until I started looking up recipes for Reuben sandwiches. Apparently, a homemade Russian dressing can be made with mayonnaise, tomato sauce, garlic powder… and I also added some dried oregano leaves. The dressing tasted way better than I had imagined.