Choucroute

Preparation info

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

A Canon of Vegetables

A Canon of Vegetables

By Raymond Sokolov

Published 2007

  • About

The name basically means cabbage chomp. The best ones I ever had were made in restaurants in Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, the Rhenish eastern frontier of France where what must have been a German idea got purified in francophone kitchens, whose twin gods are Gargantua and Descartes. Aficionados may argue about which meats should be included in an echt choucroute, but no one disputes that the real point of all that pork is to glorify the sauerkraut.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sauerkraut
  • ½ pound fat (lard, goose fat, duck fat, or other meat drippings)
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 2 cups white wine
  • ½ pound bacon (and/or kielbasa, or cocktail franks)
  • 1 pound salt pork (belly, hock, ear, or jowl), soaked in a large amount of cold water for 2 hours
  • pounds ham in a single piece
  • 6 smoked pig’s knuckles

    Method

    1. Rinse the sauerkraut thoroughly to remove all traces of the brine in which it was cured. Soak for 15 minutes. Rinse several times in a colander until the water comes out clear. Take the rinsed sauerkraut, a handful at a time, and squeeze out as much residual moisture as you can. Then leave to drain further in a colander set over a bowl.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    3. Put the sauerkraut in a Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Add the fat, the juniper berries tied up in a piece of cloth, and the white wine. Cover the sauerkraut mixture with a greased circle of wax paper cut to fill the inside of the pot. Put on the lid and set in the oven.
    4. After 3 hours, remove and discard the wax paper; add the bacon and the other meats, mixing them into the sauerkraut and covering them with it. Continue the oven, braising for 2 hours to completely cook the sauerkraut, which should completely absorb the liquid by the end. Pay close attention to the two converging processes—the doneness of the cabbage and the imbibition of the liquid—toward the end of the 5 hours. If the absorption of the liquid occurs too quickly, add more liquid—half water, half wine—a glass at a time, as needed.
    5. To serve, separate the sauerkraut and the meats. Slice the meats, where appropriate, and put a selection of them on each plate with some sauerkraut.