Sauerkraut Garnished with
Smoked, Cured, and Fresh Pork
No other dish shows off the richly varied charcuterie of Alsace quite like choucroute. This recipe was adapted from one of eight varieties served at Maison Kammerzell, Guy-Pierre Baumann's legendary choucroute institution in Strasbourg.
1-1/2 lbs, fresh ham hocks
1/4 cup goose fat
3 small yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
4-1/2 lbs. sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
3-1/4 cups Alsatian riesling or other dry but fruity white wine
1-1/2 lbs. boneless pork loin
1 lb. smoked ham
1/2 lb. slab bacon
Bouquet garni with 1 head garlic, 3 whole cloves,
6 juniper berries, and 5 coriander seeds added
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 medium red bliss potatoes, peeled
6 fresh pork sausages, such as saucisses de Strasbourg
3 blood sausages (optional)
1 tbsp. peanut oil
6 smoked pork sausages
1. Place ham hocks in a large pot. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat for 1-1/2 hours. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt goose fat in a dutch oven, or a large heavy pot with a lid, over medium heat. Add onions, cook until soft, 10-15 minutes, then add sauerkraut, wine, ham hocks, pork loin, ham, bacon, and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook in oven until meats are tender, about 1-1/2 hours.
3. About 35 minutes before serving, place potatoes in a pot of salted water over medium-high heat and cook until tender, 20-25 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
4. Prick fresh and blood sausages, if using, with a fork, then place in a skillet, cover with water, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain. Dry skillet, add oil, and heat over medium heat. Brown fresh and blood sausages (if using), turning occasionally, then remove. In the same oil, adding more if necessary, brown smoked sausages, turning occasionally, then remove. To serve, spoon sauerkraut onto a large platter, discarding bouquet garni. Slice pork loin, ham, and bacon, and arrange on platter with ham hocks, potatoes, and all sausages.
The word choucroute has also come to mean the show-stopping dish, definitive of Alsatian cuisine, of sauerkraut topped with copious portions of pork in myriad forms— but it translates simply as fermented cabbage. The earliest reference to sauerkraut in Alsace dates from the 15th century. For hundreds of years, until the early 1900s, Sürkrüt-schniders, or sour-cabbage cutters, toured the countryside, shredding cabbage to order. Today, the process is left to professionals. "You could make it at home," says Xavier Schaal, managing director of the Choucroutal cooperative in Geispolsheim, "but you'd need at least a hundred kilos of raw cabbage at a time."
Saveur Cooks Authentic French
Rediscovering the Recipes, Traditions,
and Flavors of the World's Greatest Cuisine
By The Editors of Saveur Magazine
Chronicle Books, November, 1999
320 pages, 400 full-color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created March 2000
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