Fall is definitely tied with spring as my favorite season; I love the autumnal change in the air, the briskness and breeze that reminds me winter is around the corner. I also love the fall season for the food- not only the promise of Thanksgiving, but the plethora of festivals this time of year that celebrate the last of summer’s bounty. A seasonal favorite of mine is Oktoberfest, the German folk festival famous for sausage, beer, and of course, naturally fermented sauerkraut! What better way to celebrate the start of autumn? This recipe utilizes these three ingredients for a flavorful and distinctly spiced appetizer or snack. They’re like an Oktoberfest in your mouth!
What you’ll need:
For the sauerkraut balls
- 16 oz. Bubbies naturally fermented sauerkraut
- 2 mildly spiced sausages (I used English Bangers)
- 1 leek
- butter or oil of your choice
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp sage
- ½ tsp thyme
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp salt
For the mustard IPA dipping sauce
- ½ tsp Bubbies horseradish
- 1/8 cup IPA beer
- ¼ cup mustard (Dijon would work best)
- 1 tsp honey
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Start draining your sauerkraut, so that it’s ready to go when you start forming your balls. The dryer your sauerkraut is, the better everything will hold together. This was sort of my mantra while making these- reduce moisture so they don’t fall apart. Slice the leek in half and run it under water, chopped side up, so that the layers are being rinsed- leeks can have a lot of dirt in them! Cut the leeks into thin strips, and then cube your sausage.
Depending on the type of sausage you use, you may or may not have a skin to deal with- since I used bangers, I just pulled the skins off and disposed of them. If you’re using a more heavily spiced sausage, such as a bratwurst, you may want to play around with the spice measurements a bit. English Bangers are fairly similar to American hot dogs in terms of seasoning, but they have a better taste and firmer texture.
Once those are chopped up, sauté the sausage and leeks together with a small amount of butter over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes or until the leeks are more brightly colored and soft. Once they’re done, set aside and let the excess oil and juice drain off. I set my mixture on coffee filters to help soak up extra moisture.
In a bowl, whisk together your eggs, breadcrumbs and spices. Add your naturally fermented sauerkraut, sausage and leeks, and mix well. Now comes the messy part- but messy is fun, right? Start forming small amounts of the mixture into 2 inch balls, gently squeezing while you shape it- this will help remove further excess moisture, and ensure they hold their shape while baking. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool down 15 minutes prior to serving- this will ensure they don’t fall apart when you eat them. Serve warm with Mustard IPA sauce.
Mustard IPA Sauce
Measure out the beer, mustard, honey and horseradish, and mix well in a bowl. I used ¼ cup regular yellow mustard and added 1 ½ Tbsp of mayonnaise to it to make it creamy. I think Dijon mustard would have a better, more savory flavor though, and would definitely use that next time I make this. I used an immersion blender, which mixed everything quickly and consistently- sometimes a difficult task when honey is involved! The result was slightly creamy, spicy mustard with a hint of hops and honey. You could use other types of beer if you don’t like the taste of hops; I personally think a black lager or a traditional bock would work really well in place of the IPA. You’ll be amazed at how this sauce really brings out and enhances the flavors of the sauerkraut balls! Enjoy!