bratwurst, sauerkraut und salzkartoffeln am dekorationstag

It was Decoration Day, when most Americans pay more attention to the culture of the American cookout, on what is observed, unofficially, as the first day of summer, than the nature or meaning of the holiday, the almost silly controversies about its origins, or what I think of as its continuing problematic significance.

We cooked in.

Maybe the grumpy, second part of the first paragraph explains why my heart wasn’t really into this meal; maybe it was because we had spent the day on Staten Island (there were both sweet and sour bits); maybe it’s that I was tired; maybe it was having to rush the meal because it was getting late (my own fault), and that assembling it turned out to be more complicated than it really should have been.

Dinner was okay, but not exciting. I think much of it had to do with my under-salting the vegetables, including the Salzkartoffeln (I mean, they’re called salt potatoes!), and maybe I can blame my under-salted sauerkraut on an under-salted bottled sauerkraut (modern tastes?), but then, don’t I know about ‘taste for seasoning’?

  • four links of bratwurst (one pound) from Hudson Vally Charcuterie at Raven & Boar farm, in the Union Square Greenmarket, placed inside in a pot and covered with water, brought to a boil, the heat immediately reduced and the water allowed to simmer for 10 minutes, the sausage removed from the liquid and dried, cooked above a medium flame (too high will cause their casings to crack open) in an enameled grill pan, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until browned, removed to the plates, a dab of a classic German mustard, Löwensenf Medium, placed at the side of the bratwurst
  • about one pound of la ratte potatoes from Fledging Crow Vegetables in the Union Square Greenmarket, scrubbed, boiled, along with a generous amount of salt (ideally generous, but maybe I messed up this time), drained, dried in the pan, halved, rolled in a little butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with chopped parsley from Phillips Farms
  • one 16-ounce glass jar of sauerkraut (simply cabbage, water, sea salt) from Schaller & Weber [also here] drained and very well-rinsed in several changes of cold water, drained again and placed inside a large, heavy, high-sided tin-lined copper pot with 2 chopped small red onions and one chopped orange carrot (an apple, if I had one, would have been preferable), both from Norwich Meadows Farm, 8 or 9 whole juniper berries, and about the same number of Whole Foods Market proprietary brand peppercorns (they’re surprisingly good!), a little sea salt, one large Sicilian bay leaf from Buon Italia, and enough fresh water to almost cover the sauerkraut, all brought to a boil then merely simmered (covered) over a low flame, stirring occasionally, for less than half an hour, and then uncovered for 20 or 30 minutes more
  • we shared 2 different beers: a really delicious local Montauck Summer Ale, the gift of a friend (the glass in the picture at the top), and a phenomenal smoked beer we’d first tasted in its home town, Bamberg, Upper Franconia, Helles Schlenkerla Lager, purchased at Schaller & Weber here on 2nd Avenue
  • the music was the album, ‘Philip Glass, Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3’, Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra