Sometimes I get frustrated with people when they say they can't cook.
Do you remember when the teacher in the Charlie Brown specials started talking to the class and it came across as, “Wah, wah, wah wah?” In a similar fashion, the instant translation in my brain of “I can't cook,” is that you choose not to cook or don't want to take the time to learn to cook.
Granted, I can share those harsh thoughts without fear of retribution because I assume that if you're reading this column, you have an interest in learning how to prepare great food for your family and friends. And if you are new to this craft of cooking great food, the crock pot is a fantastic place to start.
Close your eyes and envision this scene: You walk into your home on a cool, brisk autumn day after a long day of “workin' for the man.” The minute you enter your abode, hearty aromas of sausage, apple and sauerkraut greet you. It's as if someone prepared a meal just for you. You immediately feel warm and cared for.
Welcome to crock pot cooking, my friend. While it's not BBQ or grilling, I absolutely love it, and I will be sharing my best crock pot recipes through the autumn and winter.
You probably have a crock pot stashed in your cabinet from a wedding or birthday gift from the past. If not, go buy one. You can get a reasonably good crock pot for as little as $30.
This dish is absolutely one of my favorites, and it is perfect for this time of year.
You don't want to overcook this, so start it at lunch time. It only takes a few hours of cooking, and the potatoes are the only thing you prepare separately.
Here's what you need:
- 2 lbs of kielbasa sausage
- 30 ounces (typically 2 cans) of sauerkraut
- 3 to 4 large Granny-Smith apples
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 14-ounce can of chicken broth
- 3 lbs of small, red potatoes, quartered
- ½ cup of shredded swiss cheese
- 2/3 tsp of caraway seeds
- Rye bread
- Pepper to taste (no salt needed)
Cut the sausage into two-inch pieces. Drain and rinse the sauerkraut. Peel and core the apples, and cut each apple into eight pieces. Peel and thinly slice the onion.
Place half of the sausage in the crock pot. Layer with half of the sauerkraut, then half of the onion, then half the apple. Layer the remaining ingredients in the same way.
Pour in the broth, and add the caraway seeds. Place on medium to high heat, and allow to cook for 4 to 5 hours.
This is the point when you walk into the house after a long day: When you get home, boil the quartered potatoes until fork tender, which should be roughly 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add them to the crock pot. Carefully mix everything together.
Spoon onto a plate. Lay shredded cheese over the top and allow to melt.
Serve with a piece of rye bread and butter. Enjoy.
Dave Lobeck is a BBQ enthusiast and independent columnist. Reach him at www.BBQ-My-Way.com.