Choucroute garnie


Choucroute garnie is a typical Alsacian dish usually served in the cold winter months. I thought it was a wonderful occasion to use the barbecue and grill some meat. Choucroute or sauerkraut is very tasty when it is slowly braised with different flavorings and spices like in this recipe. If you are not a fan or sauerkraut, this recipe may well convert you like it did for JB.

You can drain and rinse the sauerkraut if you wish to get the edge off but if you buy a very good one, you may want to use it as is. You may also want to make your own. All the recipes I have seen call for sautéing the vegetables and bacon in some form of animal fat like goose or duck fat but there is enough fat in bacon to do the job very satisfactorily.

Use a good dry white wine in this recipe. If you want to make a ”choucroute royale”, then replace the white wine with Champagne.

The meats you will use in this need to be grilled before you add them to the dish. Grill the pieces of meat as you would usually so they will take a nice color. The long braising recipe with tenderize the meat and it will almost fall apart. I add sausages only towards the end as braising can make them dry. Suggested meats for this include pork chops, ham, smoked turkey legs, all sorts of sausages including Kielbasa, duck or goose. The important thing is that you use at least one type of meat that is smoked. This will make your dish.

Serve it with a glass of white wine, preferably a Riesling but any wine will do. Beer would also be excellent here. As we were eating it, we decided that next time, I would replace the potatoes with pierogies.

Ingredients:

5 thick slices bacon
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 or 2 carrots, sliced
1 can sauerkraut, drained (and rinsed if you wish)
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
2 or 3 cups chicken broth
4 bay leaves
15 juniper berries, cracked
10 black peppercorns, cracked
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
small new potatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
assorted meats and sausages (see above)
sour cream or greek yogurt for garnish or assorted mustards

Method:

Set the oven to 375 F or cook this on the barbecue over indirect heat.

1. Cook the bacon, onion and carrot over medium heat until the vegetables are soft. Add the sauerkraut and combine.
2. Transfer to an oven proof dish (I used a disposable aluminum pan), add the wine and the broth, not quite enough to cover (it should not look like a sauerkraut soup).
3. Put the juniper berries, the bay leaves and the black peppercorns on a small piece of cheesecloth and tie it up in a bundle. Add to the casserole.
4. Sprinkle the caraway seeds evenly over the sauerkraut.
5. Place the meat over the sauerkraut mixture, pushing down on it a bit so it is partly cover with the broth.
6. Cover tightly with foil and cook for about 90 minutes in a hot oven or on indirect heat on the barbecue.
7. After 90 minutes, add the potatoes, kielbasa and sausages. Cover again and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
8. Serve the choucroute topped with various meats and a big dollop of sour cream, greek yogurt or assorted mustards on the side.

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