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