Pork with Sauerkraut & Mashed Potatoes



One of the finest and most delicious of  German traditions is eating pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes on New Year’s Day. German tradition and folklore has it that eating pork and sauerkraut on the first day of the New Year brings good luck and prosperity.

The more likely explanation is the harvest season. Cabbage is a late fall crop. One of the best ways to preserve cabbage is to brine it. It takes about six to eight weeks for cabbage to turn into kraut. So if the cabbage was harvested in late October the sauerkraut would be ready just as the New Year approached.

Hogs were often slaughtered in the fall as well so that a family would have meat throughout the winter months.

However the tradition began the combination of pork and sauerkraut is definitely a delicious one. Any kind of pork will do. Many people make a pork roast. For some reason my mother used pork spare ribs.


The best part of this recipe is how easy it is to make. Everyone will think you slaved and worked all day. Don’t tell anyone anything different. It is a secret just between you and me!

This is what you will need:

About 1 pound of baby back ribs for each person (I have almost 3 pounds)

About 32 ounces of jarred or packaged sauerkraut

1 large onion

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Mashed Potatoes:

1 potato for each person being served

About 2 tablespoons butter, maybe more, depends

1-2 tablespoons milk or cream, maybe more, depends*

Salt and pepper to taste

*NOTE: Milk is perfectly fine. I had cream already in the fridge so I used some of it up. That is the ONLY reason I used cream this time. Normally and usually I use milk.

Here is what you do.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Salt and pepper both sides of the ribs.

Cut the onion in half, and then into slices.

Place them in a roasting pan.

Add the sauerkraut. (I used up the left overs from the Mini-Reuben’s too.) Spread it evenly on top of the onions.

Place the ribs on top.

Place in the oven for about 1 hour give or take a few minutes. Do not over cook as the pork will dry up. Dry pork is not tasty. You want nice and juicy ribs.

Turn the ribs twice during the cooking. You may also need to add a bit of water to the sauerkraut if the liquid dries up too fast, so be sure to check.

When done remove from the oven and tent some foil over them for about 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute.

While the ribs are roasting put enough water to hold all of the potatoes up to boil.

Peel the potatoes and dice into cubes. I do that the following way.

Cut the potato length wise into 4 pieces.

Then cut each of those pieces into 4 slices. Then cut those slices into cubes.

I like to cut the potatoes into small cubes. My mother cut them into big chunks. And it took forever for them to cook. The smaller cubes take much less time. Depending upon the type of potato cooking time is around 15-20 minutes or so. Test them with a knife or a fork to be sure. They should be tender enough to mash easily.

When the water is boiling add some salt and the potatoes and cook until tender.

When the potatoes are ready here is what you will need to mash the potatoes, unless you want to use a hand mixer. A mixer is best if you are making potatoes for lots of people. But for 2 or 3 like I am making I prefer by hand. For that you will need a large bowl, a hand masher, and a wooden spoon.

I prefer real potatoes to boxed or packaged. Tatses better and less expensive.

When cooked through drain the potatoes.

Add a little of the butter to the mixing bowl, then add the potatoes. Start mashing. Mash until the potatoes are as smooth as you can get them. By the way, mashing potatoes  is a good way to get rid of stress. Just mash those sweet things and you will feel stress melt away.

Then add the rest of the butter, some cream starting with about 1 tablespoon and some salt and pepper.

Using a wooden spoon, (I have found a wooden spoon to be the best way to whip the potatoes.) whip the potatoes until smooth and fluffy. You may need to add a bit more butter and/or cream.

This next picture is how the potatoes look after whipping with the wood spoon. If necessary to get out any lingering lumps mash with the masher again and whip a bit more with the spoon, adding a bit more butter and/or milk if necessary.

Now is the moment you have been waiting for ~ Eating this lucious meal.

Place everything on a plate and dig in. You can use a fork (picture 1) or use your hands to eat the ribs. I do a little of both. I start with a fork, but to get all the meat off the bone fingers are best.

Bon Appetit!!!!
Wishing you lots good luck and prosperity in the New Year!!!!!

Baby back ribs          $9.95

Sauerkraut               $3.29

1 large onion            $0.99

Salt and pepper

Total Cost = $14.23
Cost per person for 3/1 pound servings = $4.74
Cost of Mashed Potatoes

2 potatoes                    $1.49

2 tablespoons butter      $0.51

1-2 tablespoons cream   $0.37

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $2.37
Cost per person for 2 = $1.19
Total cost of entire meal = $16.60
Cost per person = $5.53

Quote of the Day

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.

Hal Borland
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2 comments to Pork with Sauerkraut & Mashed Potatoes

  • Can I say that I LOVE your potato masher? I have two and they are both pretty crap. I’m in love with your ribs, sauerkraut and mash! What a great way to start the year.

    • Roberta

      Traditions are a wonderful way to celebrate a new year…….continuity of the generations.
      Glad you ‘love’ the masher. Have to say, best one I have ever had. I got it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond more than 10 years ago. Don’t know if they still carry it. It is a Kuhn Rikon masher. Maybe you can find one on their website if they have one. Good luck. And a very happy New Year, Maureen.