I have been a devotee of choucroute garni since I first sampled it, not in Alsace but at Paris' Brasserie Lipp. Since that first time, I have sought and gained enormous pleasure from this dish in many restaurants in Alsace, throughout Paris and on occasion in Lyon, Bordeaux, Orleans, Nimes and Aix-en-Provence. Not infrequently when I entertained during my years of residence in Paris and Geneva, I would prepare this dish when hosting dinner parties and, since living in Israel I wait patiently for the onset of winter and then give it my very best here. Even though we are three days from the official onset of winter, the weather has become cool enough that this was my weekend for choucroute!
The sauerkraut was home made (started six days ago), the pork ingredients came in part from Kibbutz Mizra and in part from a butcher shop in Nazereth, the knockwurst from Hess in Jersuaelm, the herbs and the potatoes from the Carmel Shuk in Tel Aviv.
A huge pot is now cooking on the stove. In another hour the dish will be ready. The wine of my choice to accompany the meal will be the 2005 Riesling, Turckheim, Grand Cru of Zind-Humbrecht.
Choucroute Garni a l'Alsacienne
2 onions, chopped
100 grams goose or pork fat (4 oz)
1 kilo bacon, cut in thick slices (2.2 lbs)
2 kilos sauerkraut, soaked in water for 1 hour and
then drained (4.4 lbs)
1 1/2 kilos loin of pork 3 1/2 lbs)
6 pig's feet or pig's knuckles
1 piece of salt pork, about 1/4 kilo (1/2 lb)
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons pepper
2 sprigs of dill, chopped very finely
1 bouquet garni, made by tying together 1 bay leaf, 10 juniper
berries, 4 cloves in a muslin cloth
white wine as required (ideally Riesling)
1 garlic sausage
6 - 8 knockwurst
12 small - medium potatoes, boiled until barely tender
sharp Dijon mustard for serving
In a heavy skillet melt the fat and in this saute the onions
just until they are beginning to brown.
Line a large kettle with the strips of bacon. Place the sauteed
onions in the bottom of the kettle and on this place half of the
sauerkraut. Wipe the loin of pork with a damp cloth and add it to
the kettle. Add the pig's feet, large piece of salt pork, garlic,
pepper and dill and over these distribute the remaining sauerkraut
and the bouquet garni. Pour over just enough of the white wine to
cover the ingredients, cover the kettle and simmer gently for 4
hours. Add the garlic sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.
Add the knockwurst and cook for 20 minutes longer.
To serve, discard the bouquet garni and arrange the sauerkraut
in the center of a large serving platter. Surround it with the
pig's feet, sliced salt pork, sliced loin of pork and sausages.
Serve with the boiled potatoes and with sharp Dijon mustard.