For as many New Year’s as we can remember my mother, her mother, and her mother before her, put on a slow cooking pot of pork roast and sauerkraut. This year as the kraut started smelling up the marymeals kitchen with its comforting aromatics, I began to wonder how this tradition got started. I called up my mom to ask her about it and she seemed surprised as she admitted she didn’t even really know. She just remembered that it was what they did. After some investigation, I uncovered some interesting information. It turns out there is a reason why sauerkraut and pork is a traditional New Year’s food. A Pennsylvania Dutch folklore claims that eating it will bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. It’s good luck to eat pork because pigs forage forward for their food and don’t look back, and in Irish culture cabbage is associated with luck and fortune since it is green and resembles money. Since Pennsylvania is where many of my mother’s family settled when they came to this country from Ireland and England, I can see how they adopted the traditions of the locals. Other foods that different cultures use to help ring in the year include black eyed peas- for luck, long noodles- symbolizing a long life, lentils- as they resemble coins, pomegranates- abundance, and fish for moving forward. However you celebrate the New Year, I hope you can incorporate or start new family traditions. They are the rituals that bind generations of family together and create a sense of unity that nothing else can. If you’d like to follow my family’s tradition of pork and sauerkraut you just need to fire up the crock-pot and let it do all the work.
Slow Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut
4lbs pork loin roast
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 apple shredded or diced small
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 lbs sauerkraut
Place pork loin in the slow-cooker. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on caraway seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place apple on and around the pork and cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark add the sauerkraut, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top, resume cooking another 4 hours. (about 8 hours total.) Stir before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes.