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Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Choucroute garnie is another staple in brasserie and bistro cooking. It is the French version of sauerkraut from Alsace Lorraine and it is cooked with wine and juniper berries. The German version is usually, but not always, cooked in beer. You can use any sausages or smoked meats you want; I used a good frankfurter, a bockwurst, smoked bacon and smoked ham hock as well as a couple of potatoes. Recipes abound for this on the internet. This is the way I make it. Cut a slice or two of bacon into strips and chop a little onion. Render the fat of the bacon in a pot that will hold the amount of sauerkraut you want to cook. Then add the chopped onion and cook on a medium heat. Then add the sauerkraut which has been drained and washed slightly, or not, I don’t wash it as a general rule. Let the grease of the bacon heat the sauerkraut until it is uniformly warm and the strands are separated. Then add white wine to the top but not over the top. Add a bay leaf and some juniper berries and season. Cook on a slow heat in the oven or in a slow cooker. In a separate pan, add the bacon and other smoked meats and let them heat while rendering a little fat. Add a coarsely chopped onion to this and allow to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Finally, add a bay leaf and some thyme, cover the meats with water and let them simmer until cooked. Have your sausages ready so that when the meat and kraut is cooked you can add your sausages to the pot and heat them. They are usually precooked. It is always a good idea to prick them a little with a fork so they don’t burst. Whatever you do, don’t let them boil. When everything is ready, assemble the kraut and the meats tastefully on a plate and serve with some boiled potatoes and hot mustard. It is a good idea to wrap the juniper berries in a little muslin and tie it with a piece of string so that they can be easily recovered after the sauerkraut is cooked. Leave a little length on the string and hang it over the edge of the pot so you can find the berries easily and retrieve them.