A Hearty Meal for Cool Spring Nights: Choucroute Garni

The days are warm but it’s still cool in the evening and I want to use up the last of my sauerkraut before we give up hearty, peasant style comfort food in favor of the fresh vegetables, such as the asparagus, that are beginning to appear in the garden.  This Alsatian recipe, Choucroute Garni, is among our favorites.  I make my own sauerkraut, amazingly easy to do and I’ll tell about that when I do it this summer, but store bought sauerkraut is fine for this dish.

 Choucroute Garni

(serves four)

  • 2 lbs. sauerkraut
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 tart medium apples, cored and sliced
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 10 Juniper berries (or ¼ C. gin)
  • 1 large pinch ground cloves
  • 2 ½ C. dry vermouth or apple cider (or ½ & ½ of each)
  • Combination of sausages, kielbasa, bratwurst, knockwurst etc. or you could use smoked pork chops.
  • 4 large boiling potatoes, (peeled and boiled separately)

If you purchase sauerkraut, it may be extra salty.  If so, drain it and soak it in cold water for 15 minutes, then drain and squeeze dry.  Meanwhile, sauté onions in oil until tender and golden, add garlic and saute about a minute more.  Add sauerkraut and sauté for about five minutes then add apples, peppercorns, juniper berries (not gin, if using) and cloves.  Stir with a fork and add the liquids (add gin here, if using).  Simmer, covered for an hour then uncover, bury the meats under the sauerkraut and cook uncovered until the juices evaporate some and the dish is no longer “soupy.”  Meanwhile boil the potatoes and bury them in the sauerkraut and cook a few minutes more to flavor the potatoes.  Discard peppercorns and juniper berries.  Serve with spicy mustard and rye bread.

The finished dish

The finished dish


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