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Monday, January 19, 2009

Christmas Dinner Revisited--Choucroute Garnie

I'm back, after a ton of holiday house guests (which I absolutely loved having), lots of day trips, a trip to Paris for New Year's, and a two-week vacation in Spain with my husband and daughter (which included getting the flu during our last few days there). I am now recovered and ready to cook again!

Christmas dinner was a fun treat for us because we were able to cook a traditional Alsatian dish for our family--choucroute garnie. Choucroute garnie is an artery-clogger, alright, but since it's the dish of Strasbourg, we just had to make it. Basically, it's a variety of sausages and sauerkraut cooked in Alsatian white wine, and is yummmmmy.

Choucroute Garnie (from Bon Apétit)

1 3/4 pounds smoked meaty hamhocks
1 pound fully cooked bratwurst
8 ounces thick-sliced bacon strips, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoons juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
8 whole allspice
3 bay leaves
3 Red Delicious apples, unpeeled, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 2-pound jars sauerkraut, squeezed dry
2 pounds fully cooked kielbasa, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 pound fully cooked knockwurst--**I would suggest putting these in during the last 15 minutes of cooking, as mine started splitting and turned ugly, even if they tasted good.
2 cups Alsatian Pinot Blanc or other dry white wine (I used Alsatian Riesling...more flavor than Pinot Blanc.)
2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

Assorted mustards

Place ham hocks in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer hocks to medium bowl. Boil broth until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Remove meat from bones; discard bones. Place hock meat in medium bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover hock meat and broth separately; chill.) **I've found that this makes much more than 2 cups of stock. I usually freeze the rest for other uses.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bratwurst and bacon. Sauté until bacon is crisp and bratwurst is brown, about 10 minutes. Place in bowl with hock meat.

Add onions, spices and bay leaves to same pot. Sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add apples; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in sauerkraut. Add all meats; press to submerge. Add reserved broth and wine. Boil 10 minutes. Cover choucroute and bake 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. Dip cut sides into parsley. Arrange sauerkraut and meats on platter. Surround with potatoes. Serve with mustards.

I didn't get any pictures of the spread, unfortunately. These are actually pictures that my mom took since my brother, who was transporting our new, lovely camera, was delayed until Christmas day, and his luggage was delayed until that night. We went for simplicity with the meal since the choucroute is such a heavy dish...some white asparagus with aioli and steamed green bean bundles wrapped and baked in bacon. Of course, wine was abundant, and we sampled our way through several Alsatian wines: Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and a local brandy called "eau-de-vie." Good thing none of us were driving that night! ;-)


Laura in Paris January 19, 2009 at 12:38 PM  

Bravo! It's a classic winter dish and I have served it several times so far this winter. The Alsatian chefs came up with a Choucroute de la Mer or Sea Choucroute about 20 years ago, what do you think?

Mindy January 19, 2009 at 12:49 PM  

Hmmm...I think that if I liked seafood (!), it would be an interesting combination. I haven't seen it here in Strasbourg, though. I'll have to keep an eye out for it and talk my husband into ordering it! ;-)

Lori January 20, 2009 at 4:04 AM  

That dish looks amazing. I'm so jealous of the wonderful sausages you have there. An artery clogger that is worth the splurge for sure. Thanks for the recipe. Maybe I'll get up the courage to try it someday. This type of food tops my favorites list.

Chef E January 22, 2009 at 10:08 PM  

Oh my...I would dive right in the middle of this dish, and you would only see me after it was all gone, maybe hear slurping and chomping noises, after the red head flash goes by you...

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