yellow onion, diced
garlic cloves, minced
minced speck (aka smoked prosciutto)
white wine vinegar
chopped fresh dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
rendered animal fat, suet, or lard or vegetable or canola oil
crushed panko bread crumbs
Cocktail sauce, Dijon Mustard, and Mayonnaise for serving
I feel bad for those of you who have never visited or lived in northeastern Ohio, because that means you’ve most likely never enjoyed a leisurely game of euchre or had the awesomeness that is a sauerkraut ball. These awesome fritters hail from Akron, the home of King James. Go to any restaurant serving Eastern European food in the Cleveland/Akron area and you’ll find these badass balls front and center. What wouldn’t be great about a mix of sauerkraut and meat fried to a delicious golden crisp?
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent and aromatic, about 4 minutes. Add the speck and cook until it just starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the rye flour over everything and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 3 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, vinegar, and dill. Cook until the liquid thickens, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a baking sheet or plate, spreading it into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, line a plate with paper towels. In a Dutch oven or other pot suitable for frying, heat the animal fat to 350°F on an instant-read thermometer. Crack the eggs into a narrow deep bowl, add the water, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Place the all-purpose flour into a shallow bowl and the crushed panko into another shallow bowl.
- Remove the sauerkraut mixture from the refrigerator and roll into ping-pong-size balls. Roll a ball in the all-purpose flour to cover it completely; shake off any excess flour. Then, dip the ball into the egg mixture. Finally, completely coat the ball in the panko. Repeat with process for all the balls.
- Using your hands, gently and carefully drop the balls, a few at a time, into the animal fat and fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the fat and place on the prepared plate to drain.
- Serve the balls hot with cocktail sauce, mustard, and mayo.
Reprinted with permission from House of Vinegar by Jonathon Sawyer, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit Peter Larson © 2018