I always cook it with. I'll braise the pork chops, then add the kraut and the brown sugar, put a lid on it, and let it finish cooking. I'm thinking I might add a liquid but can't find such an ingredient in my recipes. It would either be beer (most likely), a port or apple juice. If I'm doing hot dogs & kraut, I always simmer the dogs and the kraut together in beer. I can not recall ever having had kraut as a side dish, either hot or cold...and I can't imagine eating it cold. If I were going to ferment cabbage for the probiotic benefits (meaning to eat unheated), I'd probably make Kimchi.