3 plates of choucroute garni

|| 1 December 2016

Choucroute à la Ann Leslie in NY

Ann Leslie in New York shares her recipe for choucroute garni and her thoughts on preparing this traditional dish from French Alsace.

Choucroute. It's one dish that I've had so often that I barely need to look at a recipe. I've found that it's always delicious, no matter what the variations might be. My husband was the cook in our house, but after he died I continued to cook it myself. It started off from a wonderful cookbook, the Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking. We started making this choucroute so long ago that we used weisswurst, which is a delicious veal sausage. It's a good 40 years since I've eaten veal!

Rather than give you the original recipe, I'll tell you how I make it now. I use a nice big Le Creuset pot. We used to use a black cast iron pot. The choucroute cooks for hours. I like to make a very large amount and freeze it. This recipe freezes very well. Here is how I made it most recently:

Method and Ingredients

I seared 2 thick bone-in pork chops (about one pound) in a little olive oil in the pot. I took out the pork (and put it into the refrigerator) and then sautéed 2 large Vidalia onions in that same pot, covering them to sweat them.

Then, I rinsed and drained two 32 oz. packages (total 4 pounds) of sauerkraut and added them to the pot, then about 2 small apples, cut up, about 4 cut-up carrots, about 2 cups of white wine, about 5 potatoes, cut up, and 20 juniper berries, 20 whole black peppercorns (I like to crunch into a whole peppercorn), and 1 Tbs. whole caraway seed. Also I add a bay leaf or two.

I cooked the choucroute on low, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours, then added the pork back in and a few boiled beef franks. You can add any pork you like, or any sausage, or bacon. I like chops with bones the best myself.

After that, I cooked the choucroute for another 1 1/2 hours.

Ann Leslie's Comments On Her Version

The original recipe calls for goose fat instead of olive oil. Also beef bouillion, bacon, pork loin, and kirsch! The caraway seed was our idea. It's not authentic. The Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking version boils the potatoes separately and serves the dish on top of the potatoes. I started adding carrots because I had old carrots sitting around, and I think they go well with the dish.

I've found that the necessary amount of wine (and/or apple juice or stock) will vary, as the sauerkraut varies, probably depending on how long it has been stored. So maybe it's best to start with less wine and add more as you go along. You can also add salt to taste. Because I use beef franks, I never need to add salt.

I've once attempted to make the choucroute in a slow cooker, but it ended up having much too much liquid and it took about 10 hours. There's probably a better slow cooker recipe, but I'd just as soon make it on the stove top. That way, it's easy to start with less liquid and add more.

AnneNote: Merci to Ann Leslie in New York for sharing her choucroute recipe with Chic & Slim.

Image : Google Images of Choucroute Garni

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