Choucroute Garnie

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Serves: 1, 4
  • Level: medium

‘…If you are unsure about sauerkraut then try this recipe. It’s not at all like you would imagine. German (Weissbier) wheat beer washes down very well with this dish…’

Pete
'A regional speciality of Austria, Germany and Northern Italy, the sauerkraut mellows beautifully from slow cooking, blending well with the sweetness from the apples and meat...'

What you need

500g fresh (from a plastic pouch) or pasteurized (from a jar) sauerkraut

1 ham hock or knuckle of pork (unsmoked and cooked) 4 sausages – German-type such as frankfurters, bockwurst, krakauer, bratwurst

4 thick pork belly slices

A selection from the following, balancing smoked with unsmoked: salted belly of pork, smoked belly of pork, chunk of smoked bacon, pancetta or speck,

1 large onion

2 large carrots

650g Charlotte potatoes

2 small eating apples

10 juniper berries

1 tbs caraway seed

2 bay leaves

250ml white wine

250ml apple juice

250ml water

50g lard



Dad's Recipe Tales

What is sauerkraut?

Pickled cabbage. It’s made by adding salt, herbs and spices to shredded cabbage. Over time the natural bacteria and yeasts ferment and pickle the cabbage. The process does not need heat or refrigeration, so has always been a useful method of food preservation. Sauerkraut is very nutritious, especially in its raw and ‘fresh’ state, where the presence of live bacteria and vitamin C can promote good health. Many people swear by ‘fresh’ sauerkraut, claiming it to be a new super food.

Until recently, buying sauerkraut in the UK was difficult, but now jars are easily obtainable from Polish deli’s and supermarkets. Sauerkraut can also be sold unpasteurized or ‘fresh’ and generally available in plastic pouches – check out the German Deli at Borough Market or your local Polish deli.

The Secret to sauerkraut…

The secret to sauerkraut is to serve it with cured pork joints, sausages and ham – as in the recipe below. The acidity cuts through the richness of the meat and creates a delicious combination of flavours. Try these combinations with German or Dijon mustard and a glass of Alsatian Riesling – then you’ll begin to understand the allure of this pickled treat – and who knows, may even learn to love it!

How Dad Cooked It

Choucroute Garnie is a regional speciality of Austria, Germany and Northern Italy. It’s a celebration of porcine meats for sure, but also sauerkraut, which mellows wonderfully from the long cooking and sweetness of the apple and meats. Even Mrs WDC approves! Balance the meats and sausages according to your taste and appetite.

1. Lightly rinse the sauerkraut and drain.

2. Chop the onion, peel and slice the carrot into thick slices, peel and cut the apple into thick slices. Peel the potatoes and cut into medium-sized pieces.

3. Heat a large casserole on a medium heat. Add the lard and sweat the onions and carrots for 10 minutes.

4. Add the pork belly slices, juniper berries, caraway seed and bay leaves, and cook for a further 10 minutes.

5. Increase the heat to medium high and add the wine and let it boil to evaporate the alcohol.

6. Add the sauerkraut, apples, apple juice and water. Cover the casserole with the lid ajar and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cook slowly for 30 minutes.

7. Add the potatoes, bring to a quick simmer and cook for 15 minutes with the lid closed on the casserole.

8. Add remaining meats and sausages and cook for a further 30 minutes with the lid ajar. Check to ensure the sausages and potatoes are cooked through and that the liquid has been absorbed into the dish. Adjust the heat and timings as necessary, or by adding more water if it looks to be drying out. NB: if you are using salted cured meats – ascertain if they need to be soaked first (depending on nature of curing). They may need pre-boiling to help remove excess salt. Check your packaging or consult with your butcher or delicatessen attendant.

9. Serve on a large platter. Lay the sauerkraut and vegetables down first and place the meats around and on top.

10. Mustard, bread and German beer or white Alsatian wine are good accompaniments.

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