The sauerkraut mellows beautifully when simmered with the meat. However, you can skip the sauerkraut and instead, make the stew with all fresh cabbage; use 1 small whole head of cabbage. Adjust seasonings with a couple of teaspoons apple cider vinegar, if you like. Smoked turkey or chicken can sub for the ham, if you prefer, but add those along with the sausage near the end of the cooking.
For Dutch Overn Version: Do all the browning in a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven. Then combine all ingredients (except the sausage) in the Dutch oven, adding an additional ½ cup water. Cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees, stirring once or twice, until pork is fork-tender, about 1 ½ hours. Add sausage. Bake until sausage is heated through about 15 minutes.
- 1-2 Tablespoon expeller-pressed vegetable oil or bacon fat
- 2 Pounds boneless pork country ribs or pork shoulder, in 2-inch chunks
- 1/2 Ounce dried porcini or dried mixed mushrooms
- 2 medium (total 8 ounces) yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 1/2 (8 ounces) small head green cabbage, quartered, cored, roughly chopped (or a combination of red and green cabbages), 4 to 5 cups total
- 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Cup sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1/2 Cup pilsner-style beer
- 1/4 Cup tomato paste
- 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 Cup drained refrigerated or deli-counter sauerkraut, 8 ounces
- 4-6 Ounces smoked ham, Canadian bacon or smoked pork butt, cut in large chunk
- 10-12 Ounces cooked smoked Polish sausages, pork or chicken kielbasa, sliced ½ inch thick
- Small golden potatoes, boiled whole and buttered, for serving
- Hearty rye bread and soft butter, for serving
- Creamy horseradish sauce or spicy brown mustard, for serving
Step 1: In large nonstick skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Working in batches, brown 2 pounds pork on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a 4-quart slow cooker.
Step 2: Meanwhile, cover 1/2 ounce porcini mushrooms with 1 cup very hot water; let stand until rehydrated, about 20 minutes. Strain the soaking liquid to remove any grit. Stir mushrooms and strained liquid into the slow cooker.
Step 3: Stir 2 chopped onions into pan drippings in skillet. Cook and stir until brown, 5 minutes. Add 8 ounces chopped cabbage; cook and stir about 4 minutes. Stir in 2 cloves garlic; cook, 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup fresh mushrooms, 1/2 cup beer, 1/4 tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt and ⅓ cup water. Mix well, then transfer to slow cooker.
Step 4: Add 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut and 4-6 ounces ham chunks to slow cooker. Cover tightly. Slow-cook on low, stirring occasionally, until fresh pork is fork-tender, about 6 hours. Add 10-12 ounces sausage slices during the last 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
Step 5: Serve with boiled potatoes, bread and horseradish sauce or mustard.