Last Sunday I completed my journey into the world of ancient Greek cuisine by present the flavours and some of the ingredients that were enjoyed at that time. Some ingredients like olives, olive oil, grapes, wine, honey, grains are still present, other ingredients like eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are more recent additions to the Greek pantry.
Many are also familiar with the herbs used in Greek cooking (oregano, thyme, dill, marjoram, bay, parsley, mint, fennel) and other ingredients “slipped through the cracks” over time. The one ingredient I am talking about is caraway.
It is not used much in today’s Greek kitchen but it is documented to have been used for medicinal purposes as far back as 1552 BC in Thebes. Caraway is an herb that belongs to the same family as dill, anise and cumin.
Those that are familiar with caraway (in Greece) usually call it by its German name, “kummel”/κιουμελ but my friend (noted Greek cookery author), Aglaia Kremezi shared that the Greek word for caraway is “karo/Kάρο”.
I was exposed to caraway at an early age by my mother, not because she is Greek but because we lived here in Toronto (Diaspora Greeks), exposed to new ingredients. My mom would buy rye bread that was speckled with caraway seeds in it, the aroma of these seeds being triggered by heat as they browned in our toaster.
Today, caraway seeds are notably used in German cuisine and so…it is no surprise the Teutons would enjoy this dish. The Greek connection to this dish is the use of pickled cabbage, pork and pork sausage meat. Cabbage is another ancient ingredient, a winter staple in Greece and many still make their own pickled cabbage and use throughout the cold months in stews such as this dish.
This dish begins by browning the meat, then add some onions, olive oil, bay leaves and today I used sauerkraut as it’s a good product (and widely available in markets here) and I like the stringy texture. Add stock/water, white wine, salt, pepper, dried Greek oregano and caraway seeds and cover/simmer for about 40 minutes and your dish is ready.
Sauerkraut With Sausages, Pork & Caraway
1 lb. of pork shoulder (bone in) or ribs, trimmed of excess fat
salt and pepper
4 pork sausages
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, sliced
2-3 bay leaves
1 796ml. can/jar of sauerkraut, strained and rinsed under cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
approx. 3 cups hot chicken/vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
- Season your pork meat with salt and pepper then place a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven on your stove top. Turn the heat to medium-high, add your olive oil and brown your meat and sausages on all sides, remove and reserve.
- Now add the onions and bay leaves, reduce heat to medium and sweat for 6-7 minutes or until translucent. In the meantime, drain your sauerkraut, rinse well and reserve.
- Add the meat/sausages back in the pot along with the sauerkraut, caraway seeds, oregano, white wine and enough hot stock/water to come almost cover the contents in the cooking vessel.
- Season again with some salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Adjust seasoning, add a drizzle of olive oil and allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.
- Divide and plate, serve with your favourite mustard and serve with a chilled Pavlou Estate Kappa P11 Blanc Noir Xinomavro/Riseling.
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