Spareribs and Sauerkraut

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Spareribs with sauerkraut is something I’ve never had outside of my own home. My father claims that there are restaurants in Minnesota (where he grew up) that serve them. But I certainly have never seen them as a menu item here in California.

Too bad, too! They are the perfect dish for a cold winter day. We serve them over boiled potatoes with ketchup. The sweet tang of the ketchup is a perfect complement to the savory spareribs and potatoes. Many people also prefer them served with mustard. Your choice.

This is a German dish; my grandmother made spareribs this way and my father makes them this way. I suppose if you’ve never had spareribs and sauerkraut, they don’t look particularly appealing—what with the different shades of gray. But believe me, they are wonderful, especially with the ketchup.

Spareribs and Sauerkraut Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of bone-in pork spareribs
  • 2 Tbps vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large (28 oz) jar (or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds) of sauerkraut (refrigerated)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (like a Sauvignon blanc)
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 Juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Method

1 Brown the ribs: Separate the ribs, and sprinkle them with salt. Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy pot on medium high heat. Add the ribs and brown them.

2 Sauté onions and garlic: Remove the ribs from the pot and add the chopped onion to the pot. Sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic for a minute more. Return the ribs to the pot.

3 Add sauerkraut, wine, juniper berries, caraway seeds: Add the sauerkraut and wine to the pot. Add just enough water to cover the ribs.  Add 10 juniper berries and a sprinkle of caraway seed to taste.

4 Simmer until meat is falling off the bones: Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until the meat falls off of the bones, anywhere from one to two hours. Remove the bones and juniper berries. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with boiled potatoes. Delicious with ketchup which creates a sweet contrast to the sour sauerkraut, or you can use whole grain mustard.

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Spareribs and Sauerkraut

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Showing 4 of 81 Comments

  • Devon

    Hello All,
    I’m from Fairfield, Kentucky and we grew up eating this filling and tasty meal. Regardless of the season, we’d have it all year round. My mom would use either country style ribs or neckbones, saurkraut, and white potatoes. Throw it all in a crock pot and serve it with her bacon grease fried cornbread! I still fix it to this day. Wherever this recipe originated, I’m glad my mom introduced me to it.

  • Janet

    In our house here in Minnesota it was either neck bones or ribblets with sauerkraut. Then we just added Irish potatoes and some parsley.

  • Janie

    P.S. That was an Iowa recipe for us. But our German grandma came from Good Thunder, Minnesota — so perhaps it was HER recipe!

  • Janie

    My mom used to make this for Sunday dinner in a pressure cooker (remember them?) and the spare ribs were SPARE at our house. I was a picky eater and I thought I hated it without even trying it. My dad would give me a rib and tell me to suck the marrow out (!). One day my mom put ketchup on it and I found out I LOVED it — but NOT with the ketchup. Kids!

  • Beth Christensen

    We are having this for dinner tonight. I too had forgotten about this delightful dinner. My mother made it back when ribs were $.29/pound. It is nice to hear that many families have this meal in their heritage. My grandmother was Hungarian and my grandfather was Czech. Interesting that so many nationalities have this meal in common.

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