Baked Sauerkraut with Smoky Delights | Varza Calita cu Afumatura

Romanian cuisine varies a lot from one season to another. Sauerkraut and smoked meats are two very common ingredients for dishes served in the winter (though you can find them throughout the year nowadays). This dish combines them both - it is one of my favorite traditional recipes to enjoy during the cold weather.

One trick to cook this recipe well is to balance the initial sourness of the sauerkraut with sweet and smoky flavors. This is achieved by combining it with flavorful ingredients (tomatoes and cooked onions taste sweet, meats are smoked), then baking the dish in the oven. Do not forget the bay leaves, thyme, and a slight spicy kick!

 - 6 pounds of sauerkraut
 - 1 large onion
 - 1.5 pounds of diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
 - 1.5 pounds of smoked sausages or meats
 - 1 cup of cooking oil
 - Spices: 7-8 large bay leaves, 2-3 of teaspoons thyme, salt, pepper, chili pepper (to taste)

 - Slice the onion, and cook it in oil on low heat for 15-20 minutes (until it becomes soft).
 - Mix the cooked onion and oil with the sauerkraut, tomatoes, smoked meat, spices, and add 3-4 cups of water.
 - Cover, and cook on medium heat for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burns.
 - Transfer the dish to the oven (move to another pot if necessary), and bake at 475 for another hour.
 - Serve hot with bread or polenta, raw onion, and a cold beer.

 - If available, fresh scallions would add a nice touch of green color while greatly complimenting the dish. Alternatively, slice some red onions and serve alongside instead.
 - A grilled sausage looks great alongside this dish, and so does a cold beer.