Choucroute Garnie

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Choucroute Garnie is an Alsatian dish that literally means dressed or garnished sauerkraut in French.  You might be thinking, But isn't sauerkraut German? You are correct, but when the region of Alsace became part of French in the 1600s (I will spare you the detailed history lesson), the dish became adopted by many of French chefs. Notice that I refer to this as a dish and not a recipe?  Well, that is because there is not just ONE recipe. So, this might be the ultimate "Make it for you, make it your own" Galley Gourmet recipe.  

Basically, Choucroute Garnie is a dish made of cooked sauerkraut and a variety of cooked meats; mostly pork and/or beef meats like, sausages, pork belly, bacon, pork ribs and sometimes even ham.  As you can see, this is a very pork-centric dish, but you can choose a mixture of whatever meats your tastebuds and little arteries desire.  

For my Choucroute Garnie, I use my Braised Sauerkraut as the base (there is already bacon in that recipe). It also has carrots in it which is not a typical ingredient in Choucroute Garnie, but this is the way I like it. The carrots add a little sweetness and color to a rather neutral hued meal. As for the "garnish" of meats, I generally use a mix of knockwurst, cooked bratwurst, and beef frankfurters. I tend to stay away from uncooked meats because, to me, they often leave the dish too greasy. 

Another ingredient that many "recipes" add is potatoes. Since the dish is in the oven for several hours, that gives me time to make some Parslied Potatoes as a side (the parsley adds more color to the table), but if I am in a time crunch, I sometimes peel and par-boil about a pound or so of Yukon gold potatoes and then add them to the sauerkraut and sausages at the end to warm through. I also like to serve a good crusty Rye Bread  in the bread basket, but I think the absolute must for this dish is a variety of mustards, like a grainy Dijon, a hot/forte Dijon, or even a quality beer mustard to drag your fork of sliced sausages through.

So as you can see, this is not a recipe. It is an any-way-you-like-it dish.  Bon Appetit!

P.S. I have also been known to use duck fat in lieu of the butter in the sauerkraut. Ok, I'll stop with the almost endless possibilities of adaptions!

Choucroute Garnie
serves 6-8

2 pounds fresh or canned sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound (8 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-3 1/2 pounds mixed variety of sausages (Knockwurst, cooked Bratwurst, Beef Franfurters), sliced on an angle in 3-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 325º F.  In a medium pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer. Add the bacon and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel-lined plate.  Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the bacon, carrot, and onion; sauté for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  Stir in the sauerkraut, cover and cook for 10 minutes more.  Add the bay leaf, wine, and enough stock to cover the sauerkraut.  Season lightly with salt and bring to a simmer.  Place a buttered round of parchment paper on top of the sauerkraut; cover and place in the preheated oven.  Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed; about 4-5 hours. Carefully remove the hot dutch oven from the oven, remove the parchment and taste the sauerkraut for seasoning. (If the kraut seems to dry, a another cup or so of stock.) Nestle the sausages in the sauerkraut; cover and return to the oven to cook until sausages are heated through; about 25-30 minutes. To serve, mound the sauerkraut in the center or a large platter and garnish with the meats.  Serve with a variety of mustards and some crusty bread.  Enjoy!

Source: The Galley Gourmet


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