Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut

Oktoberfest officially starts tomorrow!  In celebration, my gourmet club is having a German-themed meal.  I’ve been working on my menu for the past week, and today’s recipe is the dish I chose for the main course: Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut from the October 2005 issue of Food & Wine.  It’s so incredibly delicious (provided that you have an appreciation for sauerkraut!) and most of the work can be done ahead of time, which makes it perfect for entertaining.  Here’s the recipe:

Sautéed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 very large onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons off-dry wine, such as Riesling
1 large sweet apple, such as Gala or Fuji – peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
12 juniper berries
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup water
2 1/2 pounds sauerkraut – drained, rinsed, and squeezed dry (4 packed cups)
12 fully-cooked German-style sausages, such as weisswurst or bratwurst
Grainy mustard, for serving

Method:
In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook over moderately high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate.

Add the onion to the casserole, cover partially and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the wine, apple, juniper berries, bay leaves, sugar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and boil for 3 minutes. Add the water and the sauerkraut. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the apple is very tender, about 45 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Poke the sausages several times with a fork and cook them over moderate heat, turning several times, until golden and heated through, about 8 minutes.

Spoon the sauerkraut onto a platter and arrange the sausages on top. Sprinkle the reserved bacon over the sausages and serve with mustard.

Make ahead tip: The sauerkraut can be prepared through step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Sauteed German Sausages with Bacon and Apple Sauerkraut
This dish is going to be perfect on my Oktoberfest table.  It’s hearty, traditional, and delicious.  I love the hint of sweetness the apple and the wine add to the sauerkraut, and any dish topped off with bacon is practically guaranteed to be a hit with me.  I can’t wait to make it again for Sunday!
TIPS:  I made a half-recipe since I was just cooking for Dr. O and myself.  I ended up going with bockwurst for the sausages and they came in packs of four; that’s why my photo seems to be missing a few links.  I also left out the juniper berries since my grocery store didn’t have them and I didn’t have time to make a Savory Spice Shop run.
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