Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sauerkraut Sausage Balls for New Year's

I went to the Dollar Store (99 Cent Only Store) looking for black-eyed peas, and they didn't have any. I lived in the South for awhile and it is traditional to eat black-eye peas on New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year.

It is a fine tradition, but although I enjoy many kinds of beans (yes, even Lima Beans), I don't particularly like black-eyed peas. So I bought some Great Northern beans, which I love, instead.

They did however, have Sauerkraut, and I had heard that Germans eat this for luck on New Year's Day. I'm all about good luck, and I do like pickled cabbage, so I bought a can, and started scouting for recipes.

I learned that Sauerkraut and pork is especially good luck on New Year's and since I had some Lite Brown & Serve sausages in the freezer, I wondered if I could make a sort of sausage ball -- these are very popular in the South.

I found many recipes for Sauerkraut Sausage balls, and I simplified what I saw into 5 basic ingredients --

Sauerkraut, Sausage, Bread Crumbs, Cream Cheese, and Chopped Onions.

I love working with cream cheese . . . add onions and breadcrumbs and other seasonings and condiments (like picante sauce, mustard, or cocktail sauce) and you've got an excellent stuffing for mushrooms or peppers.

So, I got to work on the mixture -- I chopped half a small onion, and microwaved the sausage, then crumbled it. My favorite way to make bread crumbs is to crush croutons, as they already have such wonderful seasoning. I put the croutons in a baggie and using a hammer beat the tar out of them, and made crumbs. I took about a 1/3 of a can of Sauerkraut, and with paper towels removed the excess moisture. Then I chopped the stuff a little finer. Next I softened about 4 oz of cream cheese, and combined all the ingredients.

I formed balls about 1 1/2 in diameter -- 1 inch would probably be better, but what can I say -- I like big balls, and put them in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour (it took 40 minutes for my big ones), or until golden brown.

This is a great recipe because you can't really screw it up -- even with improvisation. The amount I stirred up made 12 big balls. The recipes I found online suggested a sweet and sour, or mustard dipping sauce for the balls, but really, they are so tangy and flavorful as is, I wouldn't bother.

The flavor profile is somewhat Asian, as the Sauerkraut is similar to Kim Chee, so this treat really combines all sorts of cultures -- everyone of them believes in Good Luck for the New Year, and as money is sometimes called "cabbage," eat lots of balls and you'll be rolling in the dough!

So Happy New Year, and Good Luck!

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