I don’t know who passed this recipe on to mom, but it has been made by mom and me for years —as far back as i can remember. It is a savory, satisfying meatball and kraut dish, and the “sauer” is tempered a little by the tomato component. The recipe can easily be doubled, and it freezes well (if there are any leftovers!)
For the ground pork, i just use Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans mild sausage (in the tube). They are very lean, so take that into consideration in the fat content of your ground beef. Usually, I just skip the veal, and use 1 # beef and 1/2 # pork sausage, as noted. Mom loves to use the Winn-Dixie brand of ground pork sausage.
Yield, about 26 medium meatballs (plenty for 6-8 “normal folks”, depending on appetites). I make them a little larger than a golfball. I like the surface-to-inside meatball ratio for the sauce “soak-in” factor.
Cooking tip: when “browning” the meatballs, do NOT let a crust form; turn them (VERY GENTLY) often so they cook all round the outside evenly, and maybe 50% inside, but not all the way through. They will be more tender that way, and retain enough fat and juices to really flavor the kraut. Mom is a jayhawk when I’m cooking the meatballs so that I don’t over-brown or let the crust form! 😉
Note that the kraut will be moist, not soupy.
Traditionally served with boiled, skinned white potatoes, with Hellman’s mayonnaise on the side (though mom likes Duke’s). I also like it with good cold pilsner or lager! 😉 UPDATE: I am now a Duke’s gal!
This dish freezes very well.
- Yield: serves 8 normal people (or fewer really hungry folks!!)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Total: 1 1/2 hours (maybe a little more)
- Active: 30 minutes
- 1/2 pound each, lean ground pork, lean ground beef and ground veal
- 1/2 C bread crumbs
- 1/4 C onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- 1/2 C raw white rice — regular long-grain rice, not uncle ben’s
- 1/4 C water (for the meatballs)
- 2 – 14 oz. size cans sauerkraut (mom likes “thrifty maid” or “silver floss” brand — not too sour.)
- 1 can campbell’s condensed tomato soup (plus one can water)
- Mix meat, bread crumbs, onions, peppers, egg, and salt and pepper. Fry up a bite size portion of meat to check and correct seasoning. Add rice and water, and mix all the above ingredients thoroughly.
- Form meatballs slightly larger than golfballs, and place on wax paper on a cooking sheet. (it is easier).
- Heat up large skillet with 3T fat (crisco oil is fine), and on medium to medium-high heat, very gently brown meatballs without creating a crust. Don’t heat at too low a heat so the fat soaks in, just stand there and keep watch and keep turning them GENTLY for even heating. remove from skillet. drain on paper towel. The meatballs should NOT be cooked through —maybe 50%—just barely browned, without any “crust.”
- Pour cans of kraut into a large stockpot with a lid. I like to add the can juices, and I don’t rinse the kraut, either. Gently nestle the partially-cooked meatballs INTO the top layer of the kraut.
- Pour can of condensed tomato soup over top; don’t stir, but spread as evenly as you can —a rubber spatula is good). Sprinkle/drizzle over that another can of water to help “spread it out” —and give liquid to the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. This will not result in a “soupy” consistency —merely moist kraut.
- Cover and cook on medium heat at a medium simmer on the stove for 1 hour. Don’t keep peeking and letting the steamy heat out! But do check as the time goes on for scorching. At one hour, check to see that the meatballs are cooked through (split one to see if still pink). Simmer until done. This long simmer is important to cook through the meatballs and to allow the fat and juices and seasonings from the meatballs to really flavor the kraut.
- Happy chowdown! Warning, they’re addictive.