Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Choucroute Garni

Choucroute garni is French for "dressed" or "garnished" sauerkraut, where meat traditionally takes the role of "garnish" for a preparation of hot sauerkraut. Incidentally, I like this idea because it reflects the way many cultures ate before the advent of the standard American diet (i.e. SAD), with meat served in small portions as the "garnish" and plant-based foods as the main event. Go one step further and make this dish vegan with your favorite vegan sausage and Match pork.  Cooked apples give this dish a nice October (Oktoberfest?) feel.

  • 5 cups sliced Braeburn apple
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 2 chopped Lightlife bacon slices
  • 1 (32-ounce) jar sauerkraut (such as Eden Foods)
  • 4 (3-ounce) vegan sausages
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
  • 12 ounces Match pork, thawed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Lightly crush the juniper berries (a mortar and pestle works well).

2. Drain the sauerkraut, and rinse under cold water to wash away some of the salt.  Cut the sausages in half, for 8 pieces total.

3. Combine the juniper, sauerkraut, and sausages in a Dutch oven with the apple, peppercorns,  bacon, and beer.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Note: choose a good dark beer like a brown ale or stout.  I used the brown ale from Brooklyn Brewery tonight. If opting for a stout, be sure to avoid Guinness, which is filtered through isinglass (fish bladder). A good vegan option is Sierra Nevada stout. An Oktoberfest brew would probably also work well with the flavors here.

4. Meanwhile, cut the Match pork into 8 equal portions, and place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Flatten gently with a meat mallet to 1/4 inch thick.  Coat both sides of the pork slices with cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with the salt and black pepper.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half of the pork pieces and saute for 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining pork slices.

6. To serve, place about 1/2 cup sauerkraut mixture on each of 8 plates, and "garnish" each serving with 1 pork slice and 1 sausage piece.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 pork piece, 1 sausage piece, about 1/2 cup sauerkraut mixture), Calories 247 

Tasting Notes:
Certainly bonus points for being different. Apple, cabbage, and pork is a classic combination, but the fermented saltiness of the sauerkraut and the richness of the beer made this novel Since I'm not a huge beer drinker, I found it to be a touch bitter, and would dilute with water while simmering next time. I also wasn't wild about the sausage, mainly because I chose the Yves Veggie brand which tasted more like a hot dog; opt for Tofurky's beer brats or kielbasa for better results.  I didn't taste much juniper flavor either, so you might add a few more berries.


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