Ask anyone who has seen me eat a Reuben: I am a sauerkraut fiend. While some shy away from the pickled cabbage, I can be found standing at the kitchen counter eating forks of it from the jar. It is unfortunate sauerkraut is a tough flavor component to add to meals. Besides when piling it on the hot corned beef sandwich, I typically only eat it with a side of German bratwurst.
Friends were coming over for dinner, and I had a hankering for the stuff. Since some people do not share my craze for sauerkraut, I put a spin on the classic bratwurst dish to make it more palate friendly. I combined the not-so favored cabbage with a simple bruschetta mixture (using a lot less basil). The sauerkraut bruschetta was an equal balance of diced tomato, sauerkraut, and red cabbage. For taste, I tossed in olive oil, just a couple basil leaves, and salt and pepper.
Toward the end of the process, I remembered that I meant to add beer to the simmering liquid. I deemed it too late, so I instead added a tablespoon or two to stone-ground mustard. Since the mustard was less thick, it became more of a sauce to pour over the bratwurst stewed in caramelized sauerkraut and onions.
As far as the beer goes, I couldn’t decide between an ale to accentuate full flavors or a lighter lager for a refreshing balance. So, I got both.
The Maredsous (Abbaye-Abdij Blonde 6) caught my eye for looks on its own. This Belgian ale is fruity and earthy (someone described it as “old apples off the ground”) with a bitter aftertaste. While that description is unpleasant, I enjoyed it with this meal. It is similar to one of my favorite beers, Leffe Blonde; a beer that will always remind me of my studying abroad days.
For the second beer, I looked to traditional German varieties because it is likely a written rule that a German dish must be paired with a German beer. While brewed in Maryland, Brewer’s Alley‘s Kölsch is a variant of the traditional German ale. It’s pale and light-bodied, using German hops for a spicy, floral taste. There wasn’t much bitterness, which helped balance out the richness of the heavily spiced brats.
If not serving on buns or pre-cut, ensure your friends have a stable surface to cut their brats. Otherwise, you’ll likely be cleaning all sorts of mustard and cabbage spills.