A large portion of my ancestry can be traced back to Poland and Russia. In fact, both of my grandmothers were first generation Americans. That means that in addition to attending American schools, eating American foods, and playing with American friends, they were also raised with strong influences from their parents’ native countries. Their religions, their languages, and their food reflected their family’s heritage, and they in turn passed along many of those same traditions to their own children. The sauerkraut that is a staple on our Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s tables is the perfect example of a nostalgic recipe that originated with my grandmother, and that will continue to be passed along to my own children as well. In my opinion, these dishes that have so many memories and cultural ties are the most special, most cherished ways to nourish our loved ones.
This particular sauerkraut turned out to be one of the most popular sides on my Mom’s Thanksgiving table last month. Kind of shocking, right?! I mean, how could cabbage possibly stand out among the corn puddings, the stuffing, and the ambrosia?! I’m not exaggerating when I say that multiple guests commented on how delicious it was (myself included).
I’m not sure if it’s the crispy, smokey bacon throughout or the slight hint of sweetness that cuts through the salty, briny sauerkraut, but I just LOVE this stuff. So imagine my surprise when my mom rattled off the (unbelievably) simple recipe! It tastes complex, but it definitely is NOT. You only need 3 ingredients and 15 minutes to make my Grandma’s Easy Sauerkraut with Crispy Bacon! It’s a family favorite side dish that’s perfect for the holidays.
This sauerkraut recipe comes from my dad’s Polish mother. She taught my mom how to make it many, many years ago, and as I said earlier — it has been a staple on our holiday tables for as long as I can remember. Not only is it incredibly easy and incredibly delicious, but sauerkraut is also believed to be a lucky dish to serve on New Year’s thanks to the green cabbage, which signifies wealth and money. If you’re making your lucky pork, your lucky Hoppin’ John, and your lucky greens in a few weeks, you might as well make this 15 minute lucky cabbage as well! It’s one of my family’s favorite traditions and one that I hope you will enjoy as well!
- 4 slices (about 4 ounces) bacon, diced
- 1 (27 ounce) can sauerkraut
- 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
- Optional garnish: caraway seeds and/or parsley
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crispy (about 5-10 minutes).
- Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off most of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 teaspoon in the bottom of the pot.
- Drain sauerkraut, but reserve the liquid from the can.
- Place drained sauerkraut, brown sugar, and cooked bacon into the pot. Heat over low heat until warmed through and sugar is dissolved. Add enough of the reserved liquid until it reaches desired consistency. Serve right away, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.