Cabbage boasts a pretty long shelf life just as it is, but when it's transformed into sauerkraut it can last for years in its sterile jars. That doesn't matter as much as it did in the years before refrigeration, but sauerkraut is still made because it just plain tastes good. Its tang makes it an especially good pairing with rich pork, but you'll need a few additional side dishes to turn that dynamic duo into a full meal.
Potatoes and Pasta
Simple mashed or boiled potatoes are a neutral accompaniment to pork and sauerkraut, but a more lively preparation like German potato salad made with hard-boiled eggs, crumbled bacon and a sweet and sour sauce is a classic side. If sweet and sour sauce doesn't tempt your picky kids, use a creamy dressing instead. A side of gnocchi or spaetzle might be outside your comfort zone, but both come packaged at the supermarket and only require boiling or reheating. A simple dish of wide egg noodles tossed with a little cream is a mild side dish that won't compete with the pork and kraut.
A Few Salads
Since pork and sauerkraut tends to be a heavy meal with strong flavors, make a chilled salad to provide a counterpoint. A simple preparation of thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes refrigerated for a few hours before serving is a refreshing side dish. An easy green salad with a chilled creamy dressing serves the same purpose. Fruit salads are a fresh, healthy side. Make a Waldorf salad with apples, celery and walnuts or combine pineapple slices with shredded carrots. In place of the more traditional mayonnaise, try light ranch dressing in either of these salads.
Root vegetables are traditional sides with pork and sauerkraut, but turnips and rutabagas might be beyond your family's tolerance for strong flavors. Try boiling them until they're just tender and putting them in a pan with butter. Add brown sugar and cook until the butter and sugar coat the vegetables. You're adding calories and fat, but you're also adding flavor and introducing your family to a vegetable they may have turned their noses up at in the past.
Lightening It Up
If you're watching calories or cooking for a picky family, lighten up your preparations and sides. Sauerkraut gets a bad rap for its strong flavor in some preparations. Rinse the kraut and squeeze out the excess liquid before you make your pork dish. Sweeten up the kraut by adding cut up apples or pears, or use applesauce in its traditional role as a topping for the pork. Use a pork tenderloin instead of a fattier roast or country-style ribs and simmer it in sauerkraut until it's cooked through but not tough. Limit the number of heavy, starchy sides you serve with the meat by sticking with salads and fruit.
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Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.