John Shields, the chef/owner of Gertrude's at The Baltimore Museum of Art, is just like any other Baltimore cook on Thanksgiving. He has to make sauerkraut. Besides local tradition, he has another inspiration—Gertie Cleary. "My grandmother used to make it," he says. "I reworked it, remembering what she did." He also honors Gertie each year with a Krautfest at the restaurant, to be held on January 13 and 14, 2012.
Gertie's Sauerkraut and Apples
6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into one-half-inch pieces (optional)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 jars (2 pounds each) sauerkraut, drained
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, allowed to go flat, see note
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and black pepper to taste
In a heavy pot, melt the butter and, if using, render the bacon for a few minutes. Add the onion and apples. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes. Place sauerkraut in the pot. Pour in the beer, caraway seeds, and salt and pepper. Toss together and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes. Alternatively, bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for one hour. Serves eight.
Note: For an uptown version of this dish, John Shields substitutes two cups of dry Champagne for the beer and adds one teaspoon minced ginger while sautéing the onion and apples.