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Choucroute, Finally

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I know it’s been a busy winter when I don’t get around to making choucroute garnie until March. This Alsatian classic—one of the world’s great regional dishes—is usually one of the first cold weather dishes I make each year. But I didn’t get around to it until last night, despite my recipe for Shortcut Choucroute, a pared-back, slimmed-down bastardization of the more sophisticated traditional recipe, but a much less inventive bastardization than Grace Parisi’s awesome Choucroute Bread Pudding.

Each time I make this recipe I eliminate a step or an ingredient and tailor it a little closer to how I like my choucroute (more mustard, fewer potatoes and whole sausages, NO hot dogs). It’s now very close to a one-pot, everything-in-at-once meal.

Shortcut Choucroute Garnie
6 servings
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
10 juniper berries
15 black peppercorns
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds assorted smoked or precooked sausages (such as weisswurst, bratwurst, kielbasa, andouille, knackwurst or bauernwurst), cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/3 pound smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
7 cups sauerkraut, rinsed well and drained
1 smoked ham shank or ham hocks
3 cups Alsatian Riesling (or other dry white wine)
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup gin
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
Crusty bread and assorted mustards, for serving

1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a sachet.
2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add the sliced sausages and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a plate.
3. Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the sauerkraut and toss well. Bury the ham hock, and herb sachet in the mixture. Return the sausages to the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, gin and mustard and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer gently over low heat until the meat on the ham shank is very tender, about 2 hours.
3. Submerge the potatoes in the sauerkraut and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with bread and plenty of mustard.

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