Choucroute garnie is an Alsatian traditional specialty. This dish is a steaming feast of pork and sauerkraut, an homage of Alsace’s German ancestry.
2lbs (900g) sauerkraut, or more as desired (homemade or store-bought)
½ cup (80g) butter, plus more for sautéing the blood sausages
2 onions, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups/500g)
3 large cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 (750 ml) bottle dry white wine, such as Riesling
4 whole cloves
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces (350g) applewood-smoked slab bacon
1 rack baby back ribs (preferably submerged in a 5% salt brine for 4 hours (see note below)
White chicken stock or water, as needed
4 knackwurst sausages, cooked as desired (roasted, sautéed, or boiled)
4 bratwurst sausages, cooked as desired (roasted, sautéed, or boiled)
4 morcilla sausages or blood sausages
To prepare the brine
Heat 6 cups (1.5 litres) water in a non-reactive pan, add ¼ cup (75g) salt, and stir until dissolved. Cool thoroughly before using. (It needs to be ice cold, so it’s best to prep the brine a day ahead and cool it in the refrigerator before submerging the baby back ribs in it.)
1Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/Gas Mark 6). Generously grease the cake pan with the butter, then dust with flour until coated.
2In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they’re translucent. Add the wine.
Then add the sauerkraut, making sure you loosen it up while you add it to the pot. Add the cloves, juniper berries, and bay leaves. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and about 30 grinds of pepper. Stir the pot well.
Add the bacon and baby back ribs to the sauerkraut and bury them in it. The liquid should come up just to the level of the sauerkraut. If the wine is not sufficient, add chicken stock or water.
Bring the liquid to a simmer. Press a parchment lid down onto the surface of the sauerkraut, then put a lid on the pot and put it in the oven for 45 minutes.
(To make a parchment lid, cut a square of parchment that’s just slightly larger than the diameter of the pot. Fold the square in half, then in half again. Now fold this smaller square in half to make a triangle and repeat to create a small wedge. Trim the wedge to match half of the pot’s radius, cut off the tip to allow steam to escape, unfold, and you will have a parchment cover to fit the interior of your pot. Press it directly onto the surface of the food.)
3Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the ribs and bacon from the sauerkraut and keep warm. Stir the sauerkraut well. Taste it and add more salt and pepper as needed. Place the ribs and bacon back into the centre of the pot, making sure the meats are submerged in the kraut and the juices. Re-cover with the parch ment and pot lid and return it to the oven for 30 minutes, or until the meat is fork tender.
4Just before the sauerkraut is done, reheat your knackwurst and bratwurst in simmering water or by sautéing them in a pan. Sauté the blood sausage in butter until browned and heated through.
5lice the bacon about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Cut the ribs into two- or three -bone pieces. Slice the sausages in two. Mound the sauerkraut in the centre of a platter. Arrange the meats around it