Growing up, Sunday morning breakfasts were never your typical fluffy pancakes and crisp, smoked bacon. That was purely Saturday fare. Sunday breakfasts were special. We always had kielbasa sandwiches on the best hard rolls my mom would get from a Jewish deli in Los Angeles. Those epic rolls plus kielbasa with nothing but spicy brown mustard were over the top delicious. I have been in love with kielbasa ever since.
My favorite way to dine on kielbasa now is with sauerkraut, I truly believe kielbasa and sauerkraut were made to eat together. My love of these foods begins with my Polish heritage. I grew up with all the homemade versions of wonderful Polish dishes. The ones that take days and days to prepare. It’s always a treat to have them around the holidays, which is when they are usually served.
But my inspiration for these nachos came from my current year-long culinary travelogue with Sargento cheese. You can read about my journey (in my first post) here. I have been assigned to explore two of the top flavor trends of 2013, one of them being fermented foods.
Now, all sauerkraut is not created equal. Much of the stuff you find on shelves in the grocery store is just packed in vinegar, not fermented at all. When speaking of store-bought fermented sauerkraut, look for it in the refrigerated section (by the pickles). Bubbies brand is one I know for sure is fermented (not all in the refrigerated section are…confusing I know).
But why go out of your way to get the fermented sauerkraut?
There have been lots of studies about the health benefits of eating fermented foods. Research has shown fermented foods are rich in enzymes, can improve digestive health and have a great capacity for nutrient absorption. If you are going to eat sauerkraut, it might as well be the good stuff.
And let’s not forget to mention sauerkraut is rich in Vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, fiber and niacin. Medical and health experts recommend eating several servings of cruciferous vegetables each week to reduce the risk of cancer of the colon. Sauerkraut, like cabbage, is cruciferous. Overall, sauerkraut is good for you and it’s a great low-cal topping for nachos.
At first I wasn’t sure what cheese I wanted to pair with this dish. A strongly flavored cheese would fight too much with these flavors.
As I thought about it more, I knew I wanted a cheese with a good backbone. Something slightly complex, but mild at the same time. A bubbly cheese that browns nicely, like on pizza. The mozzarella ended up being the perfect choice. It met all of my requirements.
Normally nachos are served with some type of sauce, the usual suspects being salsa or guacamole. But, I wanted to mimic those childhood kielbasa sandwiches served with deli mustard.
I put together a Cracked Pepper-Dijon Cream that tasted amazing on these nachos. Honestly it was the perfect finishing touch.
Sauerkraut and Kielbasa Nachos with Cracked Pepper-Dijon Cream
Cracked Pepper-Dijon Cream:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sauerkraut juice (reserve from jar)
- 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 link (14 oz) Polska Kielbasa, cubed into 1/2" pieces
- 2 cups sauerkraut, drained and squeezed
- 4 cups Sargento Off the Block Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 bag (13 oz) tortilla strips
- To make the Cracked Pepper-Dijon Cream, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Place in a squeeze bottle and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. (The flavors meld as it sets so feel free to make ahead.)
- In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and soften for about 5 minutes. Add kielbasa and brown, stirring often, about 3 minutes more. Add sauerkraut and continue to stir, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.
- Cover a large rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil and mist with cooking spray. Spread chips on baking tray and cover chips evenly with cheese. Sprinkle kielbasa-sauerkraut mixture on top of cheese. Place in a 350 degree F oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Place nachos on a serving tray and drizzle on Cracked Pepper-Dijon Cream.