Sauerkraut wouldn’t be sauerkraut without juniper. Juniper is an important spice in many European cuisines, especially in Alpine regions, where juniper grows abundantly. The aromatic, cleansing flavor of juniper works best to cut rich, gamey, or fatty foods: reindeer in Scandinavia, wild duck in Ireland, wild boar in Italy, and hare in France.
What to buy: Juniper berries are at their best when they are moist and soft to the touch. The cloudy bloom that appears on some berries is harmless. Look for whole juniper berries at specialty spice merchants and German or eastern European markets.
- 1 pound sauerkraut
- 2 tablespoons bacon fat
- 1 large red onion
- 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vodka
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- Drain sauerkraut (fresh bag – type is preferable to canned), rinse under cold water, and squeeze out the liquid.
- In a large skillet, heat bacon fat and brown red onion along with cloves and crushed juniper berries. Add the sauerkraut, dark brown sugar, vodka, champagne vinegar, and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary, until the sauerkraut is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Serve with sausage, pork chops, or duck confit, discarding the cloves before serving.