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Authentic Alsatian Choucroute Garnie Recipe

Traditional Alsatian Choucroute Garnie Recipe: The Ultimate Guide

Discover the magic of Choucroute Garnie, a soul-warming Alsatian dish that brings together succulent meats, tangy sauerkraut, and aromatic spices. This show-stopping meal is perfect for feeding a crowd and will transport you straight to the charming region of Alsace.

Choucroute Garnie is the epitome of comfort food, combining the best of French and German culinary traditions. The dish features a mouthwatering array of pork cuts and sausages nestled in a bed of wine-braised sauerkraut. It’s a true feast for the senses that will impress your guests and warm you from the inside out.

While this recipe may seem intimidating at first glance, fear not! With our step-by-step guide, you’ll be creating this Alsatian masterpiece like a pro. The key to success lies in understanding the different cooking times for various meats and treating each component with care. Let’s dive into the world of Choucroute Garnie!

The Heart of the Dish: Choosing Your Sauerkraut

The foundation of any great Choucroute Garnie is high-quality sauerkraut. Opt for a crisp, tangy variety that isn’t overly sweet. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own sauerkraut at home – it’s easier than you might think and allows you to control the flavor profile.

When preparing your sauerkraut, give it a quick rinse and taste. Adjust the rinsing based on your preference for tanginess. Remember, the sauerkraut will mellow slightly during cooking, so don’t over-rinse it.

Meat Matters: Selecting and Preparing Your Proteins

Choucroute Garnie is a carnivore’s dream, featuring a variety of pork cuts and sausages. Here’s how to handle each type of meat:

Fresh Meats

For the pork shoulder and loin, consider pre-salting them a day or two in advance. This simple step enhances flavor and juiciness. The shoulder will simmer with the sauerkraut, while the loin is best cooked separately and added at the end to prevent drying out.

Salted Meats

If you can find salted pork belly, it’s a great addition. Simmer it separately to remove excess salt before adding it to the main pot.

Smoked Meats

Slab bacon and ham hocks can go in at the beginning, while leaner cuts like smoked pork chops should be added towards the end.

Sausages

Choose a variety of sausages for an authentic touch. Gently poach them separately and add them to the dish just before serving to prevent them from bursting.

The Wine Dilemma: Choosing Your Braising Liquid

While traditionalists might insist on Alsatian wine, any dry white wine will work beautifully in this dish. The key is to choose a wine you enjoy drinking, as its flavors will infuse the entire dish. For an extra layer of complexity, consider adding a splash of kirsch (cherry brandy) just before serving.

Step-by-Step: Crafting Your Choucroute Garnie

1. Prepare the Base

Start by sautéing onions in your choice of fat until they’re soft and translucent. This creates a flavorful foundation for your dish.

2. Build the Flavors

Add wine, stock, and a fragrant spice sachet to the pot. This combination will infuse the entire dish with delicious aromas and flavors.

3. Layer the Meats

Add the longer-cooking meats to the pot first, allowing them to slowly simmer and tenderize.

4. Introduce the Sauerkraut

After the meats have had a head start, it’s time to add the star of the show – the sauerkraut. This timing ensures that the kraut retains some texture and doesn’t become overly soft.

5. Finishing Touches

As the dish nears completion, add the quicker-cooking meats, sausages, and potatoes. This ensures that each component is cooked to perfection.

Choucroute Garnie à l’Alsacienne Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450g) boneless pork loin
  • 1 pound (450g) boneless pork shoulder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (90ml) lard, goose fat, duck fat, or vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 12 ounces; 350g total)
  • 2 cups (480ml) dry white wine, such as Riesling or Silvaner (see note)
  • 1 cup (240ml) homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cheesecloth sachet containing 2 crushed medium cloves garlic, 10 juniper berries, 2 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, and 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound (450g) slab bacon
  • 1 ham hock (about 3/4 pound; 340g)
  • 1 (8-ounce; 225g) piece salt pork from the belly or side (not fatback; optional)
  • 5 pounds (2.25kg) good-quality store-bought or homemade sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 1/2 pounds (680g) mixed French- and/or German-style emulsified sausages such as frankfurters, bratwurst, weisswurst, boudin blanc, boudin noir, or knackwurst
  • 2 smoked pork chops (about 1 1/4 pounds; 560g total)
  • 5 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved, and simmered in salted water until tender
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) kirsch (cherry brandy; optional)

Directions

  1. Season pork loin and shoulder generously with salt. For best results, place on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for up to 2 days. This pre-salting step enhances flavor and juiciness.
  2. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C). In a large Dutch oven, heat 1/4 cup (60ml) fat over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add wine, stock, and spice sachet to the onions. Nestle pork shoulder, slab bacon, and ham hock in the mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover with a parchment paper lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pork loin in a small ovenproof skillet until it reaches an internal temperature of 120°F (49°C), about 1 hour. Set aside.
  5. If using salt pork, simmer it gently in a separate saucepan for 1 hour, then transfer to the Dutch oven.
  6. Rinse sauerkraut lightly and squeeze dry. After 1 1/2 hours, add sauerkraut to the Dutch oven, mixing it with the braising liquid and meats. Raise oven temperature to 300°F (150°C) and continue cooking for about 1 hour.
  7. Poach sausages in simmering water until heated through, about 10 minutes. Keep warm.
  8. Sear the reserved pork loin in a skillet until well browned, then slice into medallions.
  9. Add pork loin medallions, smoked pork chops, and potatoes to the Dutch oven. Cook until heated through, 10 to 20 minutes.
  10. Remove meats from the Dutch oven. Season sauerkraut with salt and stir in kirsch, if using. Arrange sauerkraut on a large warmed platter, then artfully arrange meats and sausages on top. Serve and enjoy your masterpiece!

Notes

While an Alsatian white wine is traditional, any dry white wine without excessive oak flavor will work well in this dish. The difference in flavor is subtle, so use a wine you enjoy drinking.

Pro Tips for Perfect Choucroute Garnie

  • Don’t rush the cooking process – low and slow is the key to tender, flavorful meats.
  • Use a parchment paper lid to protect the surface of the dish while allowing some evaporation.
  • Adjust the seasoning of your sauerkraut to your taste – remember, it will mellow slightly during cooking.
  • Serve with crusty bread and a variety of mustards for an authentic Alsatian experience.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1074 Calories
66g Fat
43g Carbs
72g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 1074
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 66g 85%
Saturated Fat 24g 118%
Cholesterol 239mg 80%
Sodium 5448mg 237%
Total Carbohydrate 43g 16%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 72g
Vitamin C 46mg 230%
Calcium 159mg 12%
Iron 8mg 44%
Potassium 1982mg 42%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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