Travel France from your kitchen: Choucroute garnie recipe
On the latest leg of our lockdown food journey through France, we share this family-friendly dish which played a role in the building of the Great Wall of China
When choucroute (aka sauerkraut) is described as garnie it means it is served with sausages, slices of ham, bacon - or even sometimes seafood.
Said to have been eaten in 300BC by the builders of the Great Wall of China, the first reference to it in France dates back to 14th century when it was jokingly referred to as kompostkrut (compost cabbage). Now it's synonymous with the Alsace and a must-try when you visit the region once it's safe to do so.
A hearty, filling dish, choucroute garnie is typically served in Alsatian homes with a variety of charcuterie, accompanied by boiled potatoes. Though a lot of ingredients are involved, this is a simple dish to put together and plop in the middle of your dining table for the whole family to tuck into.
You can buy choucroute ready to cook, or crue (raw) which means it is already fermented but hasn't been cooked.
Serves 5-6 people
1.2 kilos choucroute crue
2 pork chops cut into 1cm dice
2 slices of smoked bacon (petit salé)
200g of bacon bits (petits lardons)
3 small garlic sausages, cut into slices
2 soup spoons of olive oil
2 bay leaves
a sprig of thyme
10 juniper berries (genièvre)
15 whole black peppercorns
2 tea spoons cumin
1 bottle of dry white wine
1 stock cube (chicken) dissolved in 300ml of water
1 chopped clove of garlic
1 grated medium potato
Rinse and drain the choucroute.
Chop and gently fry the onion in a large casserole.
Add 100g of the bacon pieces ('petits lardons').
Now add in layers, a third of the sauerkraut, and half of the diced pork chop and garlic sausage.
Add some wine. Add the juniper berries, the cloves, garlic, bay, thyme, cumin, smoked bacon (petit salé) and the black peppercorns. Do not add salt.
Add the stock. You can include the pork chop bones in at this point, if you like. Add half the remaining sauerkraut and then the rest of the bacon bits and then the last of the sauerkraut topped with the rest of the meats and the wine.
Leave to simmer over a very low heat for 45 minutes, then gently turn and mix everything.
Simmer for a further 45 minutes, and then mix in the grated potato and simmer for another 45 minutes. Before serving, remove pork chop bones, if you used them.
Heat the frankfurters separately and add them as a garnish. Serve with boiled potatoes.
You will also find recipes in our monthly 'French Living' culture and lifestyle pullout, included with every print edition. Tomorrow, we will travel northwest to Lille for a signature beer-infused dish.