Sausages, pork country ribs and sauerkraut make a hearty do-ahead, one-pot meal

Searching for the perfect guy food for the ultimate testosterone holiday? Think French food. Seriously. Choucroute garni, the Alsace-Lorraine one-pot specialty, couldn't be more appealing. That is, if you like a rich, satisfying amalgam of sauerkraut, simmered pork and sausages.

Our recent updates to the classic dish include:

  1. An indulgent chunk of fresh pork belly (uncured bacon). This newly popular pork cut adds a silky richness to the tart cabbage and smoky sausages.
  2. Browning the belly and the pork country ribs. While this step may not be traditional, we enjoy the tremendous flavor the browning adds.
  3. A large Dutch oven works well, but this year we'll enlist the use of a slowcooker when cooking for a crowd.

A confession: Sauerkraut snobbery runs in the family. Please, no tinned stuff. Only fresh, crisp kraut will do. Look for the homemade sauerkraut sold from the barrels at local German and European meat markets. Most markets offer both the "raw" kraut -- crisp and briny -- and a "cooked" version (ready-to- eat, seasoned with pork and spices). For this recipe, purchase the "raw" or fresh sauerkraut. In a pinch, the sauerkraut sold in bags in the refrigerated section of large grocery stores will suffice. And always do as Julia Child taught us: Rinse, rinse.

Fresh pork belly, though not expensive, must be ordered in advance from most butchers. Lightly smoked bacon can be substituted. As for the sausages, select fully cooked varieties with varying flavors and textures -- from smooth knockwurst to coarser smoky thuringer to mild veal brats with garlic. A sharp mustard and mayo dipping sauce pairs perfectly with the pork and sausages.


Accompany the choucroute garni with plenty of French bread and a selection of beer and hard cider. Too bad the big game won't be the center of attention at this fete.
Slow-cooked choucroute garni

Prep: 30 minutes


Marinate: Overnight

Cook: 7 hours

Makes: 16 servings

This recipe doubles easily for a crowd.

2 1/2 pounds pork country ribs, cut into sections

1/2 pound fresh pork belly, cut into 1-inch thick slabs

2 tablespoons coarse salt

3 pounds fresh sauerkraut

2 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil

2 large sweet onions, halved, thinly sliced


4 large cloves garlic, crushed

4 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon each: caraway seeds, freshly ground pepper

2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups dry riesling wine

8 to 12 assorted, fully cooked sausage links, such as smoked thuringer, kielbasa, brats, knockwurst


24 small yellow potatoes, scrubbed clean

Tarragon mustard dipping sauce, see recipe

1 Rub country ribs and pork belly with salt in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Refrigerate, covered, overnight or up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

2 Put the sauerkraut into a large bowl; cover with cold water. Let stand a few minutes; drain. Repeat this step two more times. Drain well. Working with a handful at a time, squeeze excess water out of the sauerkraut.

3 Heat bacon drippings or oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Pat pork ribs and belly dry. Add pork in batches to the skillet in a single uncrowded layer. Brown nicely on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a 7-quart slow-cooker.

4 Cook the onions in the pan drippings, stirring often, until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut to coat well with the drippings. Stir in the garlic and seasonings. Arrange the sauerkraut over and under the browned pork in the slow-cooker. Pour in 2 cups of the broth and the wine. Add the remaining cup of broth if needed so sauerkraut is nicely moistened. Cover; cook on low until pork is fork-tender, about 6 hours.

5 Nestle the sausages into the mixture. Cover; cook on low until heated through, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, put potatoes into a large pot; add cold water to cover. Heat to a boil; cover. Reduce heat to low; cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Keep warm.

6 Spoon out a portion of the sauerkraut with slotted spoon to each plate. Top with some of each of the meats and the boiled potatoes. Pass the sauce at the table. 

Note: Mixture can be cooked in a tightly covered Dutch oven in a 325-degree oven until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Add sausages. Cook, covered, until heated, about 45 more minutes. Be sure to check liquid level periodically.


Tarragon mustard dipping sauce: Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon dried tarragon.

Nutrition information per serving: 667 calories, 43 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 98 mg cholesterol, 46 g carbohydrates, 24 g protein, 1,453 mg sodium, 6 g fiber