Yes, there is a Transylvania---in the far eastern part of Hungary and extending into the Carpathian Mountains, bordered on the south by Romania. Cabbage dishes are a staple of its ancient cuisine, often boiled with caraway seeds or pork for flavoring, and may be mixed with sour cream and seasonings. This casserole could have been slowly cooking in the oven while Dr. Frankenstein worked with his "inventions" or while Dracula skulked around castle windows searching for his next victim.

Serves: 8
Recipe By: Time-Life Cookbook Series, "Cooking of Vienna Empire"

2 pounds fresh or canned sauerkraut -- rinsed and drained
1 pound smoky bacon with rind, in one piece
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
2 pounds boneless pork center rib -- cut in 3/4" cubes *
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons paprika
1 pound Kielbasa, or other smoked sausage -- cut in 1/4" slices
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Squeeze sauerkraut dry and set aside; remove and reserve the rind from the piece of bacon, and dice the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a heavy 10" skillet, cook bacon until slightly crisp and transfer it to a large mixing bowl, reserving 3 tablespoons of drippings.

Drop the rice into 2 quarts of slightly salted boiling water; bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Strain into a colander and rinse with cold water; set aside to drain.

Sprinkle cubed pork with salt and pepper to taste; saute in drippings over medium heat 5-6 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides, and transfer pork to the mixing bowl. In the same skillet, cook the onions and garlic about 5 minutes, sitrring occasionally or until lightly colored. Off the heat, stir in the 2 tablespoons of paprika, continuing to stir until the onions are well-coated; then scrape the mixture into the mixing bowl with the bacon and pork.

Return skillet to the heat; add the sausage and cook until lightly browned, and transfer sausage to the mixing bowl. Pour 2 cup of the stock into the skillet; bring to a boil, scraping up any broned bits in the bottom and sides. Pour the hot stock over all the ingredients in the mixing bowl; toss gently with a fork.

Line a heavy 6-quart casserole with the sauerkraut evenly over the bottom. Spread the meat mixture evenly over the sauerkraut. Spread the rice over that. Combine the sour cream and milk; pour evenly over the rice. Score the bacon rind and cut it into 5 or 6 equal strips and distribute over the top of the casserole. Sprinkle with remaining salt, pepper and paprika.

Over medium heat on top of the stove, heat the casserole until it boils or sizzles. Cook uncovered in the middle of the oven for 1-1/4 hours, adding the other 1 cup of the stock after 1 hour. Serve directly from the casserole..

Copyright 2002 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved