Choucroute garnie (sometimes written as choucroute garnie à l’alsacienne or choucroute alsacienne à l’ancienne) hails from Alsace, the French region bordering the German Rhineland that’s been caught in a tug-of-war between the two countries more than once over the centuries. During some periods, Alsace was instead part of Germany, a bit of history which is reflected in this hearty dish.
In traditional recipes, the choucroute (as sauerkraut is called in French), is infused with the delicate flavor of Alsatian wine, gilded in goose fat, fragrant with juniper, and heaped with a mountain of French charcuterie. However, you don’t really need the Alsatian wine and goose fat to make this dish. As for the charcuterie, outside of France it’s pretty hard to come by some of the classic sausages used in choucroute, like Strasbourg sausages, French-style blood sausages, and more. C’est la vie- we shall adapt and overcome!
This recipe then, is written with the home cook in mind, using ingredients that are more readily available in most supermarkets. When shopping for sauerkraut, look for a good brand with a crisp texture and a nice, tart flavor. For the meats, bacon and ham hocks stand on for the smoked and salted cuts of pork traditionally called for in this dish., For the sausages, German-style bratwurst and knackwurst and a mildly spicy Polska kielbasa work well, but you can reasonably substitute other sausages. French options, like boudin blanc and boudin noir, would be great, too, if you can find them. Serve at least two or three different kinds of mustard with this dish, like a hot Dijon, a grainy Pommry, or a French tarragon-flavored mustard. This recipe makes about 8 servings.
- 1 3/4 pounds smoked meaty ham hocks
- 1 pound fully cooked bratwurst
- 8 ounces thick-sliced bacon strips, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries (optional)
- 1 teaspoon 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
- 2 cups Alsatian Pinot Blanc or other dry white wine
- 2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
- 2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Assorted mustards
- Prepared white horseradish
- 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.)
- 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 and horseradish.
Cook’s Note: If you don’t want to pick out the spices while dining, wrap them in cheesecloth before adding them to the pot. Prepare as above, and simply remove bundle of spices before serving.
last updated August 17, 2023