Corona Cookbook: Sausage, Sauerkraut and Beer
Easy, Delicious and Fun
By: Charles Giuliano - Dec 20, 2020
Maria’s European Delights Deli
146 North St, Pittsfield, MA 01201
When in Pittsfield I try to stock up at Maria’s European Delights Deli.
It’s more or less diagonally across the street from Beacon Cinema. Parking is tough but there is a lot just around the corner on Frenn Street. Trust me, it’s worth the trouble.
During a recent visit a woman was waiting for a sandwich. She told me they are amazing and she also recommended the daily home-made soups.
It’s a hole in the wall, one woman operation.
There is a refrigerated display case with a great variety of sausages, cold cuts, cheese and pates. The walls are lined with shelves stacked with canned goods and delicacies primarily imported from Poland.
She has her sources and everything is unique and authentic.
Over the past few years we have tried most of the varieties of sausage with preference from ones smoked with cherry wood.
Mostly there are great on the grill in the summer. There is also a go to winter recipe.
It’s quick, super simple and always just wonderful.
There was a blizzard this week and getting to Big Y was problematic.
We opted not to face bitter cold and it was a night to eat out of the freezer.
The ingredients are simple: Sausage (Astrid recently used Boar’s Head bratwurst) but I prefer the smoked Polish, sauerkraut, tarragon, and a bottle of good quality beer. On this night I added small red potatoes.
We have a deep, frying pan which is perfect for this recipe.
The sausage was cut into bite size pieces and placed in the pan with the potatoes.
Over this I generously spread tarragon. We used to have it fresh from the garden but no more. Tarragon is an annual and easy to grow.
The big difference is the quality of sauerkraut.
You can get a bag of the cheap stuff usually packed in plastic and found with the commercial sausage. In a pinch Hillrest kielbasa or better local brand will do.
Generic American sauerkraut has overwhelmingly harsh vinegar. It’s better to put it in a strainer for a quick rinse.
There is an extensive Polish community in the Northern Berkshires. Which is the base for Maria’s customers. They come knowing what they want.
During the recent visit I bought two kinds of imported sauerkraut. One was the ususal kind and the other “homestyle” or kapuska sauerkraut. In addition to fermented cabbage it has other ingredients particular shredded carrot. It is less sour and more sweet.
There was no need to rinse but I added a third of a cup of water in addition to a bottle of Pilzner style beer. The result was milder but on other occasions I have used a bottle of stout.
The bottle of kraut was densely packed. When somewhat separated, with two large sausages, we had enough for two, actually three meals. On the second night, separately, Astrid prepared additional boiled potato. The original ones had absorbed the flavors.
More tarragon was added to the top of the kraut. With a lid the heat was brought to a boil then reduced to simmer for a half hour.
Trust me, the kapuska kraut was sensational. That’s my new go to preference. We have had local kapuska before but Maria’s imported brand is just over the top.
We have prepared this dish for a small dinner party. That gets tricky given the meatless preferences for some of our friends. But is has been a hit with some of our friends who asked for the simple recipe.
There’s just enough left for a side dish tonight.
The main event will be rice and beans.
Overnight I soaked a bag of black-eyed peas. I will simmer them with more or Maria’s smoked sausage. It’s the smaller “Hunter” sausage. With some onion then served over fresh rice. With hot sauce of course added at the table.
That should get us through a couple of days before we have to shop again.
In a couple of days it will be Christmas. Astrid plans to make traditional German red cabbage with apples. We haven’t yet discussed the protein.
For now we’ve kind of had it with turkey. After Thanksgiving I got a half fresh breast with eight bucks. It was about five pounds. In one way or another it lasted a week. There were a couple of fun nights of tacos then we finished it off with flautas.
In these hard times of Covid it’s important to have interesting and inventive meals.
We miss restaurants but have saved a bundle eating real good at home. Health wise, it’s also nice to know what you’re eatin.