Choucroute Garni: Fancy French Kielbasa & Sauerkraut #Winophiles

French Winophiles (Virtually) Invade Alsace
Alsace is in the far eastern part of France, right on the border with Germany. The region sits between two possible natural borders, the Vosges mountains and the Rhine river.  As such, this little region has flip-flopped several times between being claimed by France and by Germany. As you can see, the town names also appear to flip-flop between French and German.

Alsace map courtesy of www.francetourism.com.au

Alsace map courtesy of http://www.francetourism.com.au

As we saw in Champagne, when you move north, the foods start to look similar to those found in Germany, and less like what one might eat in Provence.  Choucroute Garni is a staple food historically liked to Alsace, perfect for our Alsace exploration.

Paris markets often have a vendor selling Choucroute Garni

Get your Choucroute Garni at the Sunday morning market at the Place Monge metro station in Paris!

Growing up in an Ohio household with German and Polish roots, kielbasa and sauerkraut was one of the dishes in our normal weekly rotation.  I don’t remember Mother Burrows putting juniper berries or cloves in our supper, but what did I know, I was a kid!  Anyway, I love the dish and am especially fond of the upgrade using a few more spices and a bit of wine in the meal!

A plate of Choucroute Garni is sure to warm you up on a winter evening!

A plate of Choucroute Garni is sure to warm you up on a winter evening!

Alsace Wines
If you forget about national borders, you can see Alsace as the southern extension of the Rhine related wine growing areas in modern day Germany. Warmer and drier climate due to the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, Alsace wines are a bit fuller bodied than their German counterparts, and very often they are bone dry. Like Germany, the region is almost exclusively dedicated to white wines.  The classic grapes in Alsace include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat d’Alsace.

A nice, aromatic Pinot Blanc will complement that sauerkraut

A nice, aromatic Pinot Blanc will complement that sauerkraut

One lucky bonus for Americans is that the varietal wines are labeled with the grape name.  Hallelujah!  If you like Pinot Blanc, you can look for Pinot Blanc, not some village name you can’t remember. Woo Hoo! But wait a minute, be warned: there are blends made in Alsace, so you may see names such as “Gentil” or “Edelzwicker”, so they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Trimbach Pinot Blanc

Trimbach Pinot Blanc

Trimbach Pinot Blanc Alsace AOC 2013 ($19 at South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Clear, pale gold color
Nose: Very aromatic, comes out of the glass to meet you.  Aromas of ripe pears, white peach. There is something in the nose reminiscent of Riesling, but I can’t quite place it.
Mouth: Dry, good acidity but not tart, full body, nice long finish.  Pear & stone fruit flavors carry over from the nose to the taste.

Wine Pairing
We love kielbasa and sauerkraut even in its simplest form.  The French version adds herbs and spices which definitely up the flavor game. Add some spicy mustard, or even a variety of mustards, and wow, you have a lot going on!  The Pinot Blanc was very nice with Choucroute Garni. It had the body to balance the rich sausages and sufficient acidity to pair nicely with all that sauerkraut. Perfect.

This will warm you up on a winter night

This will warm you up on a winter night

See What My Fellow French #Winophiles Have Cooked Up

Join us Saturday, February 18th for a live Twitter Chat at 10 am CST using #Winophiles.

Upcoming #Winophiles events: Loire Valley Tour

  • March 19th  – Pays/Nantes
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  • May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray
  • June 18th  – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire

Choucroute Garni

Adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe. You can use a wide variety of sausages, depending on your preference.  If the sausage is uncooked, add it to the pot earlier.  If it’s cooked as the kielbasa, you can just add it in the last 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 15 juniper berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup Alsatian white wine (Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb. kielbasa sausage, cut into pieces 2″ long
  • 1 smoked ham shank, meaty parts sliced off
  • 1.5 lbs small red potatoes, cut in 1/2.
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Put a 6 qt. dutch oven on the stove top over a burner set to medium low
  • Melt the butter
  • Add the bacon and onions and saute for several minutes, until the bacon has browned.
  • Add the garlic and saute briefly, only 1 minute or so.
  • I like to leave the aromatics loose in the pot, but you can tie them in cheesecloth if you prefer
  • Add the aromatics: juniper berries, bay leaves, cloves
  • Add the wine, the ham shank and and any ham slices off the shank.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low.
  • Cover and simmer for 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Add the kielbasa sausage and the potatoes
  • Cook for an additional 30 minutes

winophiles_choucroute_garni_pinot_blanc 20160207 61

 

Comments
12 Responses to “Choucroute Garni: Fancy French Kielbasa & Sauerkraut #Winophiles”
  1. Cooking Chat says:

    looks like a delicious plate! And I know Trimbach wines are very high quality.

  2. This hits home for so many reasons today. I just put together a pot of sauerkraut that I will be adding sausage too later and last night we went out to dinner and enjoyed a barramundi with melon, pineapple and jalapeno. What did we pair it with? Yep,a botttle of Trimbach. It was delicious.

  3. Looks like a great combination of food and wine. While I’m not a fan of sauerkraut, you’ve inspired me to revisit my bias! And speaking of bias…did you ever get around to that liver?;-)

  4. chef mimi says:

    I love the Trimbach wines, and I loved the one time I visited Alsace. One of the prettiest parts of France. I also had choucroute while there, and I thought it was a bit bland, but so are all of the classic French peasant dishes. I prefer them a little modernized!

  5. Jill Barth says:

    Edzekwicker. Choucroute Garni. Kielbasa.
    So fun to say! I’d love to have this meal with friends — so festive!

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