- 2 cups sauerkraut
- 1 tablespoon oil, poultry fat, or bacon drippings
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries, or a splash of gin
- 1⁄3 cup water
- 1⁄2 pound cooked ham, in large cubes, or smoked pork chops
- 1 to 1 1⁄2 pounds fully cooked garlic sausages
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Total time: 60 min
Set the sauerkraut in a colander to drain; rinse it lightly if you like the dish less krauty.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and cook the onion until soft.
Add the drained sauerkraut, dill seed, bay leaves, juniper berries, and water and place the ham on top.
Cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes, or longer if you like the sauerkraut more tender; add a little more water if it is in danger of cooking dry.
Puncture the sausages and add them to the pot. Cook until plump and heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
Serve with good rye bread and mustard.
1. For the garlic sausage, substitute other fine-textured, fully cooked sausages like bockwurst/weisswurst (two names for very similar “white” sausages), knockwurst or bratwurst. For a buffet dish, use an assortment of sausages, cut into 2-inch chunks.
2. A smoked ham shank gives a nice flavor and body to the dish but needs longer cooking. Have the butcher cut the shank crosswise in 2 or 3 places, and plan on at least an hour for the shank and sauerkraut to cook together. Don’t worry about overcooking — in France they cook this dish for 3 hours or more.
Good to know
Wine-drinking France and beer-drinking France meet in Alsace, the northeastern region bordering the Rhine. In its classical form, choucroute garni is made to harmonize with the dry, flavorful white wines of the region, requiring extensive rinsing and draining of the sauerkraut to minimize its sour, briny flavors. Well, beer has no problem going with the full-strength taste of sauerkraut, so I give the sauerkraut only a quick draining before cooking it with the meats and seasonings. This is how I imagine brewers rather than winemakers would enjoy their choucroute.
This recipe is easy to scale up for a crowd, and it is still good when barely warm, making it a good choice for a weekend open house or a crowd gathered for a ball game on TV.
Which beer should I drink with this?
I like the crispness of a Pilsner-style lager with this, or maybe a Märzen, but nothing much heavier than that.
From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.