2016 is almost over! With the end of this year, comes the yearly tradition of eating pork with sauerkraut on New Year's Day. The tradition that started in Germany and Eastern Europe stems from a longstanding belief that "pigs always root forward, not backward", therefore are considered a symbol of progress and good luck. Sauerkraut comes from cabbage, which is generally green, or the color of money. Putting them together is said to bring those who eat these traditional dishes good luck and wealth in the new year.
There is of course, probably a more practical reason for the eating of pork and kraut on the new year, rooted deep in midwest farming history. Families often butchered their livestock for winter consumption early in November, as soon as it got cold enough to safely store the meat. It would then be easy to save back a butt, loin or roast for a celebratory meal for the new year. Similarly, cabbage harvest peaked in the fall, and it takes a good six to eight weeks for kraut to ferment once it's made. That usually puts the "fresh" batch of sauerkraut ready just in time for the holidays.
Now that you know the lore behind the tradition, here's our recipe for a killer pork loin and kraut that will certainly keep your whole family happy at the dinner table!
You will need:
- One boneless pork loin (2-4 lbs)
- Olive Oil
- Sauerkraut (store bought or homemade if you're brave!)
Often times, people get discouraged with their pork loin because it seems really easy to overcook it and it turns out dry and flavorless. The key to combating this issue is making sure that you regularly check the internal temperature of the roast and to cover the pan in foil to hold in flavor and juices.
To begin, cover the bottom of a shallow roasting pan or small casserole dish (whatever best fits your loin) with the sauerkraut. Make a "bed" of kraut for the roast to rest on. Next, generously season the loin with salt and pepper on the top and bottom. Place in the pan and cover the whole dish with foil. Preheat your oven to 350○ F and cook for 30-45 minutes (about 15 minutes/lb). Check the internal temperature every 20 minutes or so to make sure it's not cooking too fast. Once the temp reaches 145○ F, you can pull it out of the oven and let it sit for three minutes. At that point, your pork will be done and safely cooked, but not dry and flavorless.
Serve in thick slices with a side of sauerkraut and enjoy your luck in the new year!