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Nov 9, 2013 04:18 PM

Choucroute Garnie

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  1. Sure. What do you want to know about it?

    6 Replies
    1. re: chefj

      Do you have a recipe you especially like? It sounds like a dish I'd love. Any pit falls to avoid? How do you feel about using Italian sausage in it?

      1. re: Servorg

        no, no, no -- no Italian sausage -- the spices are all wrong.

        ham hock or two...a **mild** Polish sausage...and hot dogs (in France it would be an Alsatian saucisse, of course...preferably from Montbéliard.

        here's a recipe straight from Alsace -- Google Translate does a pretty acceptable, if not perfect, translation.

        (and Paulj's correct -- you see apple grated in with the choucroute fairly often)

        1. re: Servorg

          Definitely, do NOT use italian sausage in it. Totally the wrong flavor profile. Something in the kielbasa, knockwurst, frankfurter family is more what you want.I like to make my choucroute with a smoked hock or smoked pork chop(s), and some big chunks of slab bacon or pork belly for richness.

          It's also very important that you (a) use decent sauerkraut -- not from a can, and (b) rinse and drain it thoroughly before cooking. Otherwise the dish turns out seriously over-salty and over-sour. Use a light white wine, nothing too heavy or assertive. (Think Riesling, not chardonnay.)

          My favorite recipe is the "Choucroute Garnie Chez Jenny" that Patricia Wells published -- it looks like the version at is pretty much the same:

          1. re: Servorg

            I would not use Italian Sausage.
            I do not really use a recipe.
            It is a braised Sauerkraut dish at heart and quite German in Style. So stick to those flavors.
            For the "Choucroute" I use bone dry un-oaked White Wine, Onion, Bay Leaf, Cloves,Juniper Berries, and Cumin for Flavorings as well as Pork,Goose or Duck Fat.
            For the "Garnie" Ham Shank, Bacon, Kasseler Rippchen, Knackwurst,Spare Ribs, Frankfurters,and/or Weisswurst.

            I sweat the Onion in the Fat add the Spices, Wine and Cabbage. I also add the long cooking Meats (Ham Shank, Ribs, Bacon). Braise for an hour and a half or so and then place the sausages on top to steam till hot.
            It is almost always served with boiled Potatoes.

            It is a dish that varies greatly from Cook to Cook and Family to Family so feel free to play a bit. I have seen it include Blutwurst, Duck, Goose, Pickled Pork Knuckle,Garlic Sausage etc......

              1. re: pikawicca

                Hi pikawicca -

                Cumin is used quite a bit where we live, but not in Choucroute.

                We have had it served with Caraway seed (for digestion with meat) but sparingly. Caraway is also very commonly with pork dishes just across the frontier in Germany.

                The emphasis again is on mild sausage and meats, and nothing spicy or too strong. Most of the cabbage to be used in kraut/croute has just been picked, washed for the season. If the kraut/croute is too salty, it can also be rinsed first before cooking.

        2. It's delicious, particularly if the choucroute is made with vin blanc.

          1. My take on this is sauerkraut braised with a ham hock. Flavorings include juniper berries, and (sometimes) apple.

            My favorite side is Spaetzle.

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              I think I'll use potatoes as the side. Somehow it just strikes me better.

              1. re: Servorg

                it's the only choice -- the potatoes are frequently cooked right there in the pot with the chou and saucisse.

            2. I wouldn't exactly use hot dogs as we know them (Nathans, Oscar Mayer, etc), but rather knackwurst-type.
              Some recipes may call for pork ribs and pork chops, but I'd include some type of cured pork from the charcuterie (cured pork loin or non-smoked bacon, etc)
              Generally, you can get all your meats and sausage from a European charcuterie shop. Also a good place for the sauerkraut. I like the brands with wine.

              1. Looking forward to the answers here - thanks!

                13 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    This thread got started because of an LA board search for Choucroute Garnie at any local restaurants. I had never heard of it before that thread. So I got interested and decided that it didn't look that difficult to attempt to make at home. But when I did a search on the Home Cooking board I couldn't find even one mention of it. So this thread was born.

                    1. re: Servorg

                      probably not least because there's really nothing difficult about it-- kind of the original "dump a bunch of stuff in a pan and let it go"

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        "dump a bunch of stuff in a pan and let it go"

                        My favorite type of home made meal. It's why I have so many miles on my Dutch oven.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Well this should put a few more on it!
                          It really is a great meal it can be very humble or quite fancy, depending on what you put in it.
                          I made a very refined/deconstructed version with Foie Gras, Truffled Boudin and Smoked Duck for some Folks from the Trimbach Estate Winery.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Choucroute garnie (to me) is a dish that is very easy to make, but difficult to master. Not so much in the execution, but in the choice of ingredients to get exactly what you want.
                            It can range from pedestrian to greatness.

                            1. re: porker

                              "...but in the choice of ingredients to get exactly what you want.
                              It can range from pedestrian to greatness."

                              Then it's probably lucky for me that I have nothing to compare it to.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                like most dishes, the better your ingredients, the better your dish...but it becomes that much more important when there's not much prep to the dish -- the ingredients have to stand on their own.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  But 'better' in this context might be quite different from another. Price, for example, isn't a reliable measure of quality for this use. Smoked pork chops are more expensive than ham hocks, but I prefer the hock.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    who said anything about price? I didn't.

                                    Better always defaults to the judgment of the cook.

                                2. re: Servorg

                                  Lucky...and not so lucky.
                                  After spending time and effort on the dish, you might end up wondering why all the fuss. Either you made a pedestrian version, or it was a great but choucroute just isn't for you.

                                  1. re: porker

                                    I think it's hard to say that the dish is or isn't for me before I've made it and eaten it. If my dish is "pedestrian" by comparison to ones produce by artists of the dish, but I love mine anyway, does that mean I've gotten lucky, or unlucky? Or maybe both at the same time? Taste is a funny thing. It's the reason that people who grow up with certain local dishes that they love all their life is an acquired (one that non locals often never actually acquire) taste for others.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Couldn't agree more.
                                      I'd qualify that any dish is not pedestrian if you love it...
                                      Choucroute isn't rocket science, its a simple dish based on flavorings and nuances from meats.
                                      Me, I don't like smokiness in my choucroute, but I do love the tang of cured meats, so I choose accordingly.
                                      Does this make one better than the other? To me, yes, but on the whole no, as it depends on personal taste, as you say.