Sauerkraut with sausages and polenta

This is a dish with satisfying textures and flavours, from the slightly crunchy sauerkraut and sweet tomato sauce, to the warm flavours of paprika. There is something else that is particularly delicious here: fat. Fat is flavour. It comes both from the sausages and from the oil in which the sauerkraut is sautéed. The polenta is optional for you but a must to me, I can’ have this dish without it. 


A little bit about sauerkraut: this type of cabbage is preserved in brine or just salt, and produces lactic fermentation, which has been proven to destroy microbes. The process of fermentation enhances or extracts the nutrients and vitamins from food, passing them on to our bodies more easily. The method originates from China and it was introduced to Europe by the Tatars during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. So…despite of what we may think, it doesn’t come from Germany.


In Romania, we use sauerkraut in many ways, from raw, drizzled of oil and sprinkled with a lot of ground pepper, to soup, and stews, which we sometimes layer with rice and meat (varza de Cluj). We also use the brine to add salt and more flavour to broths and stews. Alternatively, we make our national dish sarmale: stuff the leaves with meat or rice, bake them in tomato sauce, then serve with sour cream, pickled chilies and caraway seeds. And talking about caraway, this is another medicinal and traditional herb, loaded with fibre to keep our digestive system healthy.


Ingredients, serves 4


500g sauerkraut

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 tsp sweet paprika

1tsp caraway seeds

4 sausages (any type)

200ml water

50g cornmeal/polenta

20g butter




Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of oil. Heat well then add the sauerkraut and caraway seeds, cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 15 minutes on medium to low heat.


In the meantime, put the sausages under the grill or cook them in a frying pan with a bit of oil.


While the sauerkraut and the sausages are cooking, bring the water to a boil and add the cornmeal. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and whisk well, until it thickens (probably 8 minutes). Stir in the butter.


By this time, the sausages should be done. Slice them and add them to the sauerkraut, combining well. Put a bit of polenta on a plate and add the sauerkraut with the sausages on top.