This recipe for Polish country-style pork ribs and sauerkraut, known as żeberka wieprzowe w kapuscie (zheh-BEHRR-kah viehp-ZHAW-veh vef kah-POOSH- chee-eh), is an economical, hearty one-pot meal.
The sauerkraut can be rinsed or not, depending on how much sourness you like and the sweetness level also can be adjusted. This is an economical alternative to roast pork loin. While fattier than a pork loin, the meat from country-style pork ribs is succulent and, when cooked properly, fall-off-the-bone tender.
- 4 pounds country-style pork ribs (cut 1 1/2 inches thick)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- A few dashes salt and black pepper
- 1 pound sauerkraut (drained and optionally rinsed)
- 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- Heat oven to 450 F.
- Rinse and pat pork ribs dry with paper towels. Rub ribs all over with garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Place ribs, meaty side down, in a shallow roasting pan and roast 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce oven temperature to 250 F. Turn ribs so they are now meaty side up.
- In a large bowl, combine sauerkraut, applesauce, brown sugar and caraway seeds, mixing well. Pour over pork ribs. Cover roasting pan and bake until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Serve with a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts with dill sauce.
More About Sauerkraut
The world runs on cabbage power. This versatile vegetable appears in many guises worldwide -- both fresh and brined when it becomes sauerkraut.
In days gone by and even today in some Eastern European families, winter preparations began by putting up several barrels of sauerkraut. Depending on the size of the family and the size of the cabbage, a clan might ferment as many as 300 whole heads of cabbage in wooden barrels. Occasionally, along with the salt, spices like caraway seeds, wine or other vegetables were added.
By the late 1800s, whole heads of cabbage gave way to shredded cabbage being placed in covered crocks. If the family couldn't afford their own shredding tool, a peddler went door-to-door and performed this service for a fee.
After the cabbage had fermented to the household's liking, it was stored in a cool place and the housewife would pull out as much as she needed from the crock or barrel and prepare it primarily with pork if it was available or just plain when times were lean and money scarce.