Choucroute Alsacienne

Serves 4-6

I used to hate the French dish choucroute, or sauerkraut as it's called in Germany. However, over the years I have finally come round to it and discovered that it's best when you adjust the flavours to suit your taste, and you don't go overboard on the quantity. I think the trouble was that whenever I'd tried it before, the cabbage was so heavily salted, and it was always served in ridiculous amounts. I expect in Alsace and Germany it still is. Even some Parisian brasseries serve it in joke quantities.

I used to hate the French dish choucroute, or sauerkraut as it's called in Germany. However, over the years I have finally come round to it and discovered that it's best when you adjust the flavours to suit your taste, and you don't go overboard on the quantity. I think the trouble was that whenever I'd tried it before, the cabbage was so heavily salted, and it was always served in ridiculous amounts. I expect in Alsace and Germany it still is. Even some Parisian brasseries serve it in joke quantities.

Choucroute is traditionally served with pork, and there's so much scope for matching it with some of the great sausages and bacon now available. Smoky Black Forest ham and great smoked and boiling sausages are sold by the German Wurst and Delicatessen at Borough Market and at their shop in Central Street, London EC1 (020-7250 1322) along with lots more sausages and hams and even jars of cabbage so you can make your own bespoke choucroute. Smoked ham and boiling sausages, though not necessarily the real thing from Germany or Alsace, are sold in supermarkets, too.

700-800g smoked streaky pork or a piece of smoked pancetta with the rind left on
500g kassler (smoked loin of pork) or a piece of smoked back bacon with the rind left on
4 medium-sized meaty smoked sausages
4 meaty sausages, such as Toulouse
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp vegetable oil
1tsp caraway seeds
1tsp black mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
6 juniper berries

for the cabbage

1 small head of white cabbage weighing about a kilo or less
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1tbsp vegetable oil
1tsp caraway seeds
1tsp black mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
6 juniper berries
100ml white wine
50ml white wine vinegar
1 medium potato, peeled and grated

Cut the smoked streaky pork (and smoked back bacon, if you are using it) into rough 4cm chunks, put in a bowl of water and leave overnight in the fridge. (You don't have to do this to pancetta or kassler.) The next day wash the meat under the cold tap for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a large saucepan (the pancetta can be added now if you are using it) and cover with water. Add the onions, juniper, caraway and mustard seeds along with the bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender. The water may need topping up every so often.

Add the sausages (and kassler if you are using it) and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Remove the pieces of meat and sausages and strain the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve. Pour about 1/3 of the liquid back over the meats to reheat them later.

Start on the cabbage by trimming any discoloured outer leaves and cutting it into four. Cut out the root with a heavy knife and finely shred the leaves. Gently cook the onions in the vegetable oil in a thick-bottomed pan for 4-5 minutes with the caraway, mustard seeds, bay and juniper, until soft. Add the white wine, vinegar, potato and cabbage and the strained liquid the meat was cooked in.

Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every so often. There shouldn't be much liquid left, just some natural, slightly thickened cooking liquid. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

To serve, reheat the meats in the cooking liquid, transfer the cabbage to a large serving dish and spoon the meats over it. Serve with some good strong mustard and drink beer.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect