Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute Garnie with Knackwurst, Bacon, cured ribs and potatoesChoucroute Garnie is a hearty Alsatian dish made from choucroute (sauerkraut), sausages, cured meats and potatoes.

Disclaimer: This is not a dish for the faint of heart. If you have heart problems, eating a heaping bowl of Choucroute Garnie will probably make them worse. Also, if you’ve looked at one of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks and promptly shut it, due to his choose-your-own-adventure style of recipe writing, you may want to skip this post as well.

However, if you’re in good cardiovascular health and have a bit of patience, your toils will be rewarded by a sumptuous homemade porcine feast that’s as fulfilling as it is filling.

Choucroute Garnie  - Smoked pork chop (top left), Knackwurst (top right), Cured pork ribs (middle right), Bacon (middle), Potatoes (bottom)

Choucroute Garnie is probably the most famous Alsatian dish outside Alsace, consisting of choucroute (sauerkraut) braised with various cuts of cured pork and juniper berries. The slow cooking mellows the intensity of the fermented cabbage while making the slabs of bacon and cured ribs meltingly tender. To finish it off, it’s topped with more meat, sausages and potatoes, making it a hearty warming meal that’s perfect for a cold rainy day.

Five weeks, may sound like a long time to spend on one dish, but this project was truly a labor of love, and each bite brought back fond memories of firemen barreling down 4th st towards our rooftop smoker, Claire’s sausage antics (which I’m not allowed to show you), and the stench that permeated my apartment for over a week. In the same way that growing your own vegetables or catching your own fish can be rewarding, there was a wonderful sense of ownership and accomplishment that came with making the choucroute, sausage and cured meat from scratch.

Choucroute in pot with bacon and cured pork ribs

Best of all, this was a group effort between myself, Stephane The Nice Frenchman from Zen Can Cook, and Claire The Radiant Alsatian from Colloquial Cooking, so the time spent making it and the shorter time spent devouring it was all in good company. They also came bearing beer, bretzels and a gorgeous rhubarb tart which rounded (quite literally) off the meal.

Will I be making choucroute garnie again?… Heck yea!… I’ll just need to spend a few months as a vegan to shed the 10 pounds of pork fat I’ve consumed over the past few weeks. Maybe next time we’ll try raising the pig and growing our own cabbage too! Stephane? Claire?

Choucroute Garnie

for cured pork ribs
1.5 lbs pork rib tips
2 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cloves

meat
1 lbs smoked bacon slab (unsliced)
1 1/2 lbs smoked pork chop cut into 2 slices
8 links homemade knackwurst sausage

for choucroute
2 medium onions sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 C dry Riesling (or other off-dry white wine)
1 Tbs honey
3 bay leaves
1 Tbs juniper berries
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
3 cloves
5 sprigs thyme

1 batch homemade choucroute rinsed and drained
2 C low sodium chicken stock (if you make the stock, don’t add any salt)
8 potatoes peeled

Five weeks before
Make the choucroute (sauerkraut)

Up to 1 week before
Make the Knackwurst and smoke.

Two days before
Cure the pork ribtips by mixing the salt, sugar and cloves and rubbing the mixture into the meat. Put in a ziploc bag and refrigerate until ready to use.

Day of Choucroute Garnie
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Rinse the cured rib tips. Cut the fatty ends off the slab bacon and chop into 1/4″ thick batons. Cut the rest of the bacon in half lengthwise then slice into 1/2″ thick rectangles. You should end up with 8 pieces about 4″ x 1 1/2″ x 1/2″.

Add the small pieces of bacon fat into a large dutch oven over medium heat and render out some fat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until they are tender, brown and smell sweet. Add the wine, honey, bay leaves, juniper, pepper, caraway, cloves and thyme then bring to a boil.

Add half the sauerkraut and stir to combine. Nestle the ribs into the sauerkraut along with a few pieces of large bacon. Put down some more sauerkraut then lay down the rest of the bacon. Cover with the remaining sauerkraut then pour over the chicken stock.

Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours then add the smoked pork chop on top of the choucroute garnie. Cover and return to the oven until the pork chops are warmed through and the rest of the meat is fork tender (about another 30 minutes).

Add the potatoes to a pot of generously salted water and boil until tender. When the potatoes are almost done, bring a small pot of water to a bare simmer and add the sausages. Allow them to simmer until they plump up, then remove them from the water. Add the sausages on top of the choucroute garnie and return to the oven uncovered for a few minutes to allow the skins on the sausages to crisp.

To serve, lay down a healthy heap of choucroute onto a serving platter and cover with the various cuts of meat. Then surround with the boiled potatoes and garnish with something green.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ colloquial cook

    I can raise a pig on my rooftop! I’ll feed him acorns, massage his thighs, and sing French love songs in his soft hairy ears.
    See you in three years for homemade pata negra.

  • http://colloquialcookin.canalblog.com/ colloquial cook

    I can raise a pig on my rooftop! I’ll feed him acorns, massage his thighs, and sing French love songs in his soft hairy ears.
    See you in three years for homemade pata negra.

  • http://zencancook.com/ zenchef

    Talk about pata negra.. i have 1/4 lb of jamon iberico de Bellota in my possession.. Will trade for some leftover choucroute! (err.. let me think about that some more.. hehe )

    Don’t turn into a vegan Marc!.. You can do that to us!! What a fabulous dish this was.

  • http://zencancook.com zenchef

    Talk about pata negra.. i have 1/4 lb of jamon iberico de Bellota in my possession.. Will trade for some leftover choucroute! (err.. let me think about that some more.. hehe )

    Don’t turn into a vegan Marc!.. You can do that to us!! What a fabulous dish this was.

  • http://menuinprogress.com/ mike

    That looks great! Pig four ways – how can you go wrong?

  • http://menuinprogress.com mike

    That looks great! Pig four ways – how can you go wrong?

  • http://www.practicallydone.com/ helen

    You guys are serious.

    My boyfriend and I often joke about raising our own pigs, one to keep (we’ll call him Wilbur), and the other to eat (we’ll call him Pork).

  • http://www.practicallydone.com helen

    You guys are serious.

    My boyfriend and I often joke about raising our own pigs, one to keep (we’ll call him Wilbur), and the other to eat (we’ll call him Pork).

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com/ courtney

    Now I am impressed!

  • http://www.cococooks.blogspot.com courtney

    Now I am impressed!

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com/ katiek @kitchensidecar

    wooo!

    So appropriate to use a sweet reisling for your ode to pork fat. This dish take a lot of preparation and perseverance. Props to you for seeing it all the way through.

    What will you do for oktoberfest??

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek @kitchensidecar

    wooo!

    So appropriate to use a sweet reisling for your ode to pork fat. This dish take a lot of preparation and perseverance. Props to you for seeing it all the way through.

    What will you do for oktoberfest??

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com/ Tartelette

    One of my favorite dishes…and yours look perfect!

  • http://www.tartelette.blogspot.com Tartelette

    One of my favorite dishes…and yours look perfect!

  • http://constableslarder.com/ Giff

    this sounds fabulous :) glad the work came out so beautifully

  • http://constableslarder.com Giff

    this sounds fabulous :) glad the work came out so beautifully

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    Fabulous dish and if it weren’t Spring, I’d go and get the ingredients and make it “toute Suite” or we’re talking about Alsace-Lorraine…SCHNELL!

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    Fabulous dish and if it weren’t Spring, I’d go and get the ingredients and make it “toute Suite” or we’re talking about Alsace-Lorraine…SCHNELL!

  • http://mllenoelle.wordpress.com/ mlle noelle

    I ADORE la choucroute! I cooked it once for a guy I dated 12 years ago, and he STILL talks about it to this day. ;)

    Good job on making it look attractive, too- it’s not always easy with one-pot meals.

  • http://mllenoelle.wordpress.com mlle noelle

    I ADORE la choucroute! I cooked it once for a guy I dated 12 years ago, and he STILL talks about it to this day. ;)

    Good job on making it look attractive, too- it’s not always easy with one-pot meals.

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com/ The Duo Dishes

    Guess we’re the only ones who had no idea what choucroute was until today. Anyone who makes this for you gets an A++++! All of that prep involved is for an adventure loving cook.

  • http://duodishes.wordpress.com The Duo Dishes

    Guess we’re the only ones who had no idea what choucroute was until today. Anyone who makes this for you gets an A++++! All of that prep involved is for an adventure loving cook.

  • http://www.minimalchronicles.blogspot.com/ chiara.u

    this dish seems really great!! In my region we use to cut cabbage into strips, sprinkle with vinegar, add in salt and leave it for a while… then you must rinse, drain and garnish with a sauce made of anchovies dissolved into olive oil and a clove of garlic… cabbage remain crunchy and very tasty! maybe one of this days I’ll post the recipe called “bagna caoda”, traditional of an italian region, Piedmont, where Turin is… sorry for the lenght of this comment; it’s nice to compare different ways of preparing the same recipe!! Bye :)

  • http://www.minimalchronicles.blogspot.com chiara.u

    this dish seems really great!! In my region we use to cut cabbage into strips, sprinkle with vinegar, add in salt and leave it for a while… then you must rinse, drain and garnish with a sauce made of anchovies dissolved into olive oil and a clove of garlic… cabbage remain crunchy and very tasty! maybe one of this days I’ll post the recipe called “bagna caoda”, traditional of an italian region, Piedmont, where Turin is… sorry for the lenght of this comment; it’s nice to compare different ways of preparing the same recipe!! Bye :)

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    I’d run an extra couple of miles just to be able to eat this. Especially if I could indulge in it with some good, spicy mustard.

  • http://www.foodgal.com Carolyn Jung

    I’d run an extra couple of miles just to be able to eat this. Especially if I could indulge in it with some good, spicy mustard.

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Nigella has a recipe for this that I’ve been wanting to try for a while…Good on you for making the components from scratch! I do enjoy a meal that comes with a health warning every now and then :)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Nigella has a recipe for this that I’ve been wanting to try for a while…Good on you for making the components from scratch! I do enjoy a meal that comes with a health warning every now and then :)

  • http://www.gourmettraveller88.com/ Janet @ Gourmet Traveller 88

    Hi Marc, this is a beautiful Alsace dish you made. Alsace is just next to Basel of where I live. I can comment yours is so presentable, I am sure it taste even better than the restaurant.

  • http://www.gourmettraveller88.com Janet @ Gourmet Traveller 88

    Hi Marc, this is a beautiful Alsace dish you made. Alsace is just next to Basel of where I live. I can comment yours is so presentable, I am sure it taste even better than the restaurant.

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Hah! So glad then, that I (was) in good cardiovascular health when I met Claire– I ordered the choucroute! Absolutely delicious, and now and forever that dish will always remind me of Claire. Well done! :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Hah! So glad then, that I (was) in good cardiovascular health when I met Claire– I ordered the choucroute! Absolutely delicious, and now and forever that dish will always remind me of Claire. Well done! :)

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Gorgeous presentation! I adore Alsatian cuisine and this dish is one of my favorites! Excellent!

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Gorgeous presentation! I adore Alsatian cuisine and this dish is one of my favorites! Excellent!

  • http://ouichefcook.com/ connie

    This is hardcore collaborative home-cooking at its best. Love it. Great dish, a definite favorite.

  • http://ouichefcook.com connie

    This is hardcore collaborative home-cooking at its best. Love it. Great dish, a definite favorite.

  • http://weareneverfull.com/ Jonny

    it probably goes without saying that we would totally get with this pork-gasm whatever the weather, and what’s wrong with a game or two of hide-the-sausage between friends? what? oh…

  • http://weareneverfull.com Jonny

    it probably goes without saying that we would totally get with this pork-gasm whatever the weather, and what’s wrong with a game or two of hide-the-sausage between friends? what? oh…

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    That looks great, Marc! I love all that pig in there–the more, the better, as far as I’m concerned:) And the potatoes are the icing on the cake, choucroute.

  • http://onlinepastrychef.wordpress.com/ Jenni

    That looks great, Marc! I love all that pig in there–the more, the better, as far as I’m concerned:) And the potatoes are the icing on the cake, choucroute.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    What a feast! Wonderful flavours there.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    What a feast! Wonderful flavours there.

  • http://serveitforth.com/ Barbra

    What an impressive and delicious project. Now if only someone could tell me where to find the best choucroute garnie in Paris….

  • http://serveitforth.com Barbra

    What an impressive and delicious project. Now if only someone could tell me where to find the best choucroute garnie in Paris….

  • http://bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    My hat’s off to you! You guys are SERIOUS. Looks great.

  • http://bigboldbeautifulfood.blogspot.com/ Ninette

    My hat’s off to you! You guys are SERIOUS. Looks great.

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com/ elra

    What a delicious specialty Mark.
    I’ve been meaning to make this, my Alsatian friends recommended me to go to Dittmer’s (I have the feeling that you live in Silicon Valley before). Anyway, they said, just go there and tell him that you want to make Choucroute Garnie. He’ll give you the best ingredients. I haven done it so far.
    Yours look so good!

  • http://elrasbaking.blogspot.com elra

    What a delicious specialty Mark.
    I’ve been meaning to make this, my Alsatian friends recommended me to go to Dittmer’s (I have the feeling that you live in Silicon Valley before). Anyway, they said, just go there and tell him that you want to make Choucroute Garnie. He’ll give you the best ingredients. I haven done it so far.
    Yours look so good!

  • http://easydoesitrecipes.blogspot.com/ Christelle

    Oh that’s so cruel, I get these very seldom these days, only when I go back to France :( ingredients are not the same in the uk…

  • http://easydoesitrecipes.blogspot.com/ Christelle

    Oh that’s so cruel, I get these very seldom these days, only when I go back to France :( ingredients are not the same in the uk…

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I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!