Choucroute Garnie


Choucroute garnie is a traditional Alsatian dish, usually made with sauerkraut.  I first tasted it during the summer after my first year of law school.  My roommate and I were house sitting her parents’ beautiful home on Capitol Hill in Seattle, overlooking Portage Bay.  Her dad was a professor at UW and her mom was from France.  They spent the week at their cabin in the San Juan Islands.  Weekends they came back to the house and always had friends over for meals.  One of my favorite guests was Angelo Pellegrini, who grew his own food and made his own wine.  He authored the seminal food literature book “Unprejudiced Palate,” and introduced the first widely-published pesto recipe in the U.S.  He was a charming man, who loved food from all over the world, as long as it was fresh and made with love.  He was also a major influence upon me in my approach to food and cooking.

This time, I had plenty of cabbage, but didn’t feel like stinking up the house making sauerkraut (it’s not hard to do, just smelly), so I made Choucroute with fresh cabbage instead.  A tummy-warming dish for a cold winter night.

  • 1 pound sausage (e.g. bratwurst or kielbasa)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 5 cups shredded combination of green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots (most green cabbage)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 juniper berries (optional, but they add a nice gin flavor)
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds (also optional)
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into 1/2″ thick slices
  • ½ cup each apple cider and dry white wine
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or paste

Cut sausage into ½ inch thick slices.  Heat up a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add sausage and lightly brown it. Remove sausage from the pan and set it aside.   If the sausage is lean, add 2 tsp olive oil.  When oil is hot, add cabbage and onion.  Lower heat to medium and sauté for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The cabbage will shrink to about half its quantity. Mix juniper, caraway, cider, wine, sugar, mustard and bouillon in a bowl.  Pour in the liquid mixture to the cabbage and stir well.  Layer potatoes on top of cabbage, layer sausages on top of potatoes.  Cover the pan, slightly ajar, and cook the mixture for another 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and potatoes can be pierced with a fork.   Serve in shallow bowls or soup plates.  Makes 4 servings.

If you use store-bought sauerkraut in this recipe, rinse and drain it in cold water at least 4 times to remove most of the salt and omit the chicken bouillon.

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