Sunday, January 3, 2010

Choucroute Garnie

I have changed my blog name to reflect my one true (food) love, cornichons. I keep a large jar of cornichons and religiously gorge myself on them for a post-work pre-dinner snack. They manage to be tangy, sweet, salty and with the slight tarragon flavor...mmmm...they never get old, there will always be a jar of cornichons (and my loving husband) at home.

I thought a French recipe would be appropriate for my first post under my re-named blog, a French recipe that I have been craving ever since the weather has been sub-zero and since my diet has evolved to include meat.

With the new year, a significant change has been made to my diet -- I am eating meat. How to incorporate meat into my diet, cooking techniques, and flavors are all new to me. After countless years as a vegetarian and 10 years of those being a strict vegan (even working as a vegan baker), I am eating meat. It's not a full on meat every day at every meal change, but rather trying to incorporate meat into my diet about once or maybe twice a week. This recipe is more than meaty.

I am starting with poultry. I have carefully tried a handful of dishes -- pollo alla birra, chicken meatballs, and apricot almond chicken curry.

Choucroute is traditionally made with an array of pork -- hamhock, ribs, smoked sausages-- or occasionally fish. This is my version of choucroute made with a variety of poultry. The recipe I am adapting from uses ribs, ham, kielbasa and sausage. I will try the original recipe once I am ready to eat pork.
Choucroute Garnie

This is largely adapted from Jacques Pepin and serves 4-5.

  • 2 lbs sauerkraut (in plastic bags), drained
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 6-7 juniper berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp of caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cups Riesling or Pinot Gris
  • 2-3 sausages, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 pound kielbasa, cut into bite size pieces
  • 4-5 pounds medium potatoes or 10 small potatoes, boiled

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a dutch oven, heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion, garlic, bacon, and a pinch of salt. Saute until the onions are tender and the bacon begins to brown, about 7 minutes.

Add in the sauerkraut, stock, wine, juniper berries, caraway, and bay leaf. Scrape all of the bits that have browned on the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Place the lid on the dutch oven, or cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 1.5 hours.

While the sauerkraut is baking, bring a pot of cold water with potatoes to a boil. Cook until tender and drain.

Add the sausage and kielbasa to the dutch oven and cook until they are fully warm, about 25 minutes.

Add the boiled potatoes and serve with a variety of mustards (such as Vodka Chili Mustard), rye bread, and of course cornichons!

Notes: This is a must try recipe for winter! I cut the original recipe down to serve about 4 people. I used smoked turkey kielbasa, turkey bacon, and chicken sage sausages I found at my local co-op.

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