This is Party Time, a column featuring Young Gun-approved approaches for acing a dinner party.
Eater Young Gun Jeremy Hoffman (’13) and Michelle Hoffman, his wife and partner in Preserve Eats, are known far and wide for their fermentation skills. Their Annapolis restaurant shows off the versatility of preserved foods, drawing on the region’s local bounty to prepare dishes like compressed watermelon with goat cheese, slow-roasted short rib with five-spice onion relish, and pork with sauerkraut.
Hoffman is a native of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, near Allentown, a region where pork and sauerkraut traditionally figure prominently in New Year’s Day feasts. Hoffman’s pro tip for an easy, accessible dinner party meal taps into those roots: He suggests making ample use of a cast iron skillet and filling it with meats, potatoes, and kraut for a hearty choucroute garnie. Bonus: This is a one-pan recipe, leaving you with less mess to deal with when your guests go home.
“It’s an Alsatian dish: Basically it’s pork parts and sausages, sliced hams, things like that, cooked with sauerkraut and potatoes,” he says. “You take sausages — whichever kind you like, bratwurst, frankfurter — and put them in with peeled potatoes, sauerkraut, and a touch of white wine. Put it in the oven and let it brown for a couple of hours.”
The dish is perfect for parties because it’s a “set-it-and-forget-it,” Hoffman says, something you can cook slowly without much minding — allowing you to do all the other things needed to get ready for guests. “You can put it in the oven for hours and let the sauerkraut break down, or if you’re at a place where there’s a grill, you can throw the cast iron on the grill and let it slowly cook,” he says. “It’s something that’s true to my upbringing in Pennsylvania, and something that’s accessible. People always know hot dogs and sauerkraut, so they’re not going to be afraid of it — and it’s insanely flavorful and an easy thing to throw together.”
Easy enough for those of us at home: For his guests, Hoffman (of course) makes his own sauerkraut from scratch.