La Choucroute - A Sunday Lunch Special

Offal is something I am very fond of,  rabbits and quail I relish, but until last weekend there was one section behind the polished glass counter of my local butcher that remained untouched by  The Hungry Cyclist. Displaying  plump brown sausages from strange mountain regions in the east; caramelised sides of smoked swine, singed at the edges, pallid frankfurters tight in their skins and heaps of translucent shredded cabbage, this was a hallowed corner dedicated to Choucroute.

This culinary tool kit of ingredients make up the famed French dish Choucroute (cooked cabbage). A Sunday lunch special in these cold winter months it hails from the proud mountain region of the Alsace. In this corner of France the pig is king and every morsel is utilised. Apples abound and the humble cabbage, as in the Savoir, is the winter vegetable of choice. Mix all these ingredients together  along with litres of the acclaimed local wine, Resiling, and you have dish whose mention alone in the depths of winter makes any Frenchman's face glow with delight.  For this is French comfort food at its best. A fast slow-cooked pot of heart-warming ingredients that fill your house with sweet  smells and  your guests with pleasure. Served on a vast platter , with various sausages protruding from all directions, a well-presented  choucroute is a dish of legend  belonging on the  pages of a comic.

Hosting my first Sunday lunch here at The Hungry Cyclist Lodge I am pleased to tell you that my arrival at the table with a steaming mountain of choucroute went down like a brides nighty! Here is the recipe...

  • 1.5 kg of cooked or raw sauerkraut (this may be hard to find in the UK but try a Polish shop)
  • 100g of lard or goose fat
  • 4 onions
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and sliced
  • 450 g smoked pork loin
  • 2 large smoked sausages (saucisses de montbéliard) if you can find it - if not get a selection from your nearest Polish supermarket)
  • 3 medium smoked sausages
  • 4 thick cut slices of bacon
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 waxy potatoes
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 bottle of dry Riesling
  • 6 Frankfurters
  • Dijon Mustard

1. Drain and rinse the choucroute. Melt the fat in a deep casserole over a low heat.

2. Add the onions and saute for 10 minutes until translucent.

3 .Take half the choucroute and layer it over the onions. Layer the slices apples over the choucroute.

4. Now layer the sausages, bacon and loin over the apples. Sprinkle with juniper berries and a generous grinding of pepper.

5. Add the rest of the choucroute, empty the wine in the casserole, cover and leave over a low heat for 1.5 hours.

6. While the pot is cooking boil the potatoes and leave in the hot water. Five minutes before serving drain the potatoes and heat the frankfurters through in the hot water.

7. To serve heap the cooked cabbage onto a large platter. Slice all the meat and layer over the cabbage. Place the potatoes around the edge and add the frankfurters on top.

8. Get hold of plenty of Riesling and settle in for a very satisfying afternoon.