Families in Alsace generally eat choucroute garnie during the wintertime, because it's such a hearty, filling dish.; Jacques Pépin has adapted the recipe to make it quicker and easier—calling for store-bought sauerkraut instead of the homemade kind, for instance, and suggesting peanut oil as a substitute for duck or goose fat, which may be less accessible. He always serves two or three types of mustard with the choucroute—a hot Dijon, a grainy Pommery and often a tarragon-flavored mustard as well.
More Recipes from Jacques Pépin
1/3 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 pounds pork back ribs or baby back ribs, cut into 3 sections
6 pounds sauerkraut (in plastic bags), drained
1/4 cup duck or goose fat or peanut oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
20 juniper berries
3 large bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups Riesling or Pinot Gris
2 pounds Polish kielbasa, skinned and cut into 2-inch pieces
10 skinless hot dogs
One 2-pound piece of boneless boiled ham (3 to 4 inches wide), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 pounds medium potatoes (about 10), peeled
Assorted mustards, for serving
How to Make It
In a large, sturdy, resealable plastic bag, combine the 1/3 cup of kosher salt with the sugar. Add the pork ribs; shake well to thoroughly coat the ribs with the seasonings. Seal the bag and refrigerate the ribs overnight or for up to 24 hours.
The next day, preheat the oven to 300°. Rinse the sauerkraut in cold water and squeeze dry. Set a large roasting pan over 2 burners on high heat and melt the duck fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the sauerkraut, juniper berries, bay leaves, caraway seeds, black pepper, stock and wine and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, rinse the pork ribs under cold water and pat dry. Nestle the pork ribs in the sauerkraut and bring back to a boil over moderately high heat. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the pork ribs from the sauerkraut. Cut down in between the ribs. Return the ribs to the sauerkraut and nestle in the kielbasa, hot dogs and ham. Cover and bake until the meats are hot, about 25 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat; cook the potatoes until tender when pierced. Drain the potatoes and cover to keep warm.
To serve, mound the hot sauerkraut in the center of very hot dinner plates and partially tuck in the pork ribs and the kielbasa. Arrange the hot dogs and ham around the sauerkraut. Alternatively, pile the sauerkraut on a large heated platter and garnish with the meats. Serve the choucroute with the boiled potatoes and assorted mustards.
The choucroute can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated for 3 days. Reheat before proceeding.
In Alsace, choucroute's traditional wine partner is either a rich, spicy Gewürztraminer or a bone-dry, crisp Riesling. However, an Alsace Gewürztraminer can actually overpower choucroute's spicy, herby flavors and make the dish taste sweet. A better match is an Alsace Riesling, which is delicately floral with an acidity that matches the sauerkraut and balances the richness of the pork.
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Review Body: Five Star!!! Fed this to our French family. They said it was one of the best Choucroutes they have eaten, and they come from Alsace. Slight modification; decided to make this in the afternoon, did not have spare ribs or the 24 hours for brining. Substituted ham hocks.