Cranberry Bean, Smoked Pork Chop & Sauerkraut Stew

The season of stews is upon us. The cold weather is settling in, bringing its’ wet weather, gloves and frozen cheeks with it. I love those first few minutes walking into a warm house, where you thaw out a bit. And it’s even better when there is a chock full of creamy beans, smoky pork and sauekraut bubbling away on a hot stove, filling the house with savory smells. About two weekends ago, I stopped by a supermarket that I don’t usually frequent and saw these smoked pork chops that I had to bring home to experiment with. It was a sunny and oddly warm day and I was tempted to throw them on the grill, to see what happened but I had a feeling that low and slow cooking would lend that smoky flavor over to the cranberry beans and sauerkraut and it pleasantly did. This stew is great as leftovers, it’s even better warmed up the next day! Enjoy!

  • 1 cup cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 smoked pork chops
  • 2 cups drained sauerkraut and carrots from a jar, (usually found in the Polish aisle)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • a few dried champignon mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries

Place the cranberry beans in a large heavy bottomed pot, top with the pork chops. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and water to the pot. Bring to a boil on high heat, covered. Remove any foam that comes to the surface. Once it boils, lower the heat and stir in the the tomato paste and simmer on low heat for 1 hour, covered. Stir occasionally, so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. I love my wooden spoons for that! After your hour is up, remove the pork chops and set aside. Add in the sauerkraut (squeezed super dry), mushrooms and the garlic. Remove the meat off of the bone, shredding and cutting the meat into small pieces and add back into the pot. Increase the heat to high, so your stew begins to boil again. Once it does, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and juniper berries before serving. Makes about 4 servings.

Sauerkraut & Potato Phyllo Pie

I love pierogis! And made them many many moons ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I loved getting lost in the kitchen on a weekend. As the hours escaped, I was restored  and a beautiful meal was made. But did I get lost, as they take a long time to make! lol They are a true labor of love. First you make the filling, then the dough, flour is everywhere (at least it is when I make them, lol) and then they are boiled, a few at a time. All worth it, of course but I wanted to spend less time in the kitchen and put a different spin on the Polish dumpling. And I thought that making a “pierogi pie” using phyllo dough would be fun. Not quite a quick meal to make, I would still save it for when you have more time, where you can get a little lost yourself. ;)

  • 4 pounds sauerkraut
  • 3 small onions, finely chopped, about 3 cups
  • 10 oz. button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus about one stick melted
  •  1/2 pound phyllo pastry sheets, 20 sheets (9″x 14″) I got a box that was a pound with 2 easy-to-use rolls. Using one roll.
  • 3 cups instant mashed potato flakes, use a brand that is 100% real potatoes.
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

This recipe is a little complicated and I regret not taking more pictures but I’m gonna explain it in as much detail as possible. For this recipe, you will need a 9″ spring form pan. Take your pan and measure it against the phyllo dough, Using a knife, trim the dough to fit the pan, leaving your phyllo dough square, no need to trim it round to be exact. Once you begin layering, it won’t matter. Take half of the sauerkraut and rinse well with cold water and squeeze all of the liquid out. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! And with the remaining sauerkraut, you don’t have to rinse it, just squeeze until dry. Instant mashed potatoes are great in a pinch! Add more milk as needed to the potatoes if needed so they spread easily. Reserve 1/3 of the prepared potatoes for the sauerkraut. This is my first time using phyllo dough and I followed the instructions on how to handle it. I was really nervous, I felt if I didn’t follow the instructions on how to handle the phyllo dough it would crumble. I covered it with plastic wrap and then with a damp towel like the package directions said. And if it ripped, it still turned out fine. Have everything set up so your pie is easy to assemble.

Prepare your mashed potatoes according to the package instructions. Allow them to cool a little bit so they are easier to handle. Melt your 4 tablespoons of butter and add in the onion, saute until it is translucent. Add in your mushrooms and allow them to cook for 40 minutes, until they lightly brown. Do this on low heat and stir often. Add in your sauerkraut and 1/3 of the prepared mashed potatoes. Season and set aside. With the remaining mashed potatoes, divide them up in their bowl into 3 portions. Do the same with the sauerkraut and potato mixture. Have your pie making station ready, your phyllo dough covered, melted butter ready, a brush to use with it. Your fillings divided, for ease. Preheat your oven and you are ready to make your pie! Brush butter on the bottom of the pan and begin layering your dough. Brushing butter between every layer. Every layer should have 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Alternate the sauerkraut and the potato layers. Four sheets of phyllo, sauerkraut, potato and repeat. Using a spatula made spreading the filling easier. Don’t worry about the excess phyllo dough in your pan, just push it down with the brush. If using this same size, you will run out of the pan size sheets, just use the halves, making them a whole sheet. Phyllo is much more forgiving than I thought! End with the remaining phyllo sheets brushing your top layer with butter also. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees until browned on top. Make sure to place your pie on a flat cookie sheet, so any melted butter doesn’t land in your oven but stays in your pie. Let cool for about fifteen minutes, release and remove your spring form and use a serrated knife to cut your pie. This makes about 10 servings. Serve with sour cream on the side. Enjoy!