Sauerkraut with Pork Belly
► by Chef / Owner Patrick van der Donk of Amuse Sunset Restaurant Aruba
This dish isn’t on the menu at Amuse Sunset restaurant, but owner and Chef Patrick van der Donk makes it at home for his three young sons – triplets that he and his wife Ivette had three years ago.
— Photography: Kenneth Theysen
That was just two years before opening the new location of their popular restaurant, on a calm pier just south of the airport. Even the Queen of Holland has dined at this peaceful destination, an area with turquoise water sheltered from the oftentimes ferocious trade winds.
“Boats from all over Aruba are stored here before a storm because it’s such a quiet bay,” says Patrick. He is swiping through photos on his phone of his sons dressed in chef toques, white jackets and checkered pants, and holding whisks in their tiny hands. The boys have hearty appetites, he adds; they devour his sauerkraut, just like he did when his mom made it for him. But thanks to their Venezuelan mother and chef father, they’re exposed to a lot of different foods – and they eat everything, from arepas to eggs, sausages, lamb leg and pickles. “They like spicy,” he says, laughing.
The secret to his mom’s sauerkraut is the pork belly that she’d serve with it. “She’d buy a kilo and cook it in water with salt for two hours,” he says. The belly, made mostly of fat, insulates the meat and essentially cooks it confit, so it’s incredibly tender. “It’s really a ‘wow!’ factor,” he says.
Sauerkraut with Pork Belly
1 stick butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
200 g (½ lb.) boneless pork chop, cut in 1 cm cubes, or 200 g (½ lb.) bacon
1 kg (2.2 lb.) prepared sauerkraut
5 juniper berries, optional
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 tbsp. (15 ml) sour cream
Heat the butter in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and stir, cooking until the fat renders and no pink is visible (about 3 minutes).
Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the sauerkraut. Stir and add the water. When the liquid comes to a simmer, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. If the sauerkraut gets too dry, add more water.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve with boiled potatoes and pork belly.
1 kg (2.2 lb.) pork belly
Pinch of salt
In a large pot, cover the pork belly with water and add the salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.
Cut the meat into one-inch thick slices and serve with the sauerkraut.
You can substitute the boneless pork chop with bacon.
You can buy or make any kind of sauerkraut for this recipe, including sauerkrauts made with white wine or herbs.
Leftover pork belly meat is great on a sandwich with Dijon mustard the next day.