Our recent updates to the classic dish include:
- 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.
- Browning the belly and the pork country ribs. While this step may not be traditional, we enjoy the tremendous flavor the browning adds.
- A large Dutch oven works well, but this year we'll enlist the use of a slowcooker when cooking for a crowd.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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