Alsatian Hotpot Recipe
There is a famous dish from the Alsace region of France known as Choucroute Garni, in which Sauerkraut (the Choucroute) is cooked with a wide variety of sausages, different cuts of Pork and usually a few vegetables. It is a rustic, peasant style dish, often including potatoes and apples, and can be quite a gargantuan affair.
Now, I have read many accounts of this dish, but I have never been served it anywhere and my own versions tend to be slightly less elaborate than is traditional. The recipe here, and shown above, restricts the Pork component to Ribs and a little Bacon, and uses just a little Sauerkraut along with fresh Cabbage. It is really not worthy of the name Choucroute Garni, in all honesty, but it is still a rich and hearty meal.
The Recipe Card below calls for 1 ½ Cups of Sauerkraut. You can purchase and use any commercial product that suits your taste but using homemade is more satisfying. This is not at all difficult and, if you like, you can follow my own Homemade Sauerkraut Recipe.
If you do not have Juniper Berries, you can try whole Allspice as an alternative. The Wine can be omitted in favor of extra stock and, if desired (and you have the space in your pot, you could add some thickly sliced sausage along with the ribs. I like Knackwurst myself.
If you are using Wine, a nice dry Alsatian Reisling is a good choice.
First, brown your ribs either by frying or by giving them 10 or 15 minutes in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven. This step is optional, but the browning will add nice flavor.
Blanche the cabbage, by immersing for 30 seconds in boiling salted water for 10 seconds and then refreshing in ice-cold water. This will help it to maintain its color somewhat during the main cooking process. In truth, although I always do this, the effect is not as pronounced in this dish as it is in other preparations with shorter cooking times, so you can omit this step if you like.
Next, sauté the bacon until it is browned (but not crispy). Add the sliced onion and as soon as it is translucent, remove your pan from the heat.
Mix the onion and bacon together with the cabbage and sauerkraut and then stir in the herbs and seasonings (other than the bay leaves) and any needed salt. At this point, you can store the mix in the fridge until needed.
When you are ready to cook, place a layer of the cabbage mixture at the bottom of a casserole, arrange the ribs and potatoes over top along with the Bay leaves, and cover with the remaining cabbage. Pour over the stock and wine, put the lid on the casserole and put into a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 2 ½ to 3 hours. If, during the process, things look to be getting a little dry, add a little more water or stock. When all is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, serve hot.
Your Recipe Card:
Alsatian Hotpot Recipe
- 1 small rack of Pork Ribs
- 3 -4 cups coarsely shredded Cabbage
- 2 thick rashers of Bacon sliced into matchsticks
- 1 medium Onion thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups Sauerkraut; rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp. fresh Sage chopped
- 2 tbsp. Parsley chopped
- ½ tsp. Celery Seed
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 – 2 tbsp. Juniper Berries
- Salt as needed;
- 6 – 8 small unpeeled new potatoes
- 2 Bay Leaves
- ¼ cup Meat Stock
- ¼ cup Dry White Wine
- Brown the Ribs by briefly frying, or baking in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven.
- Blanche the Cabbage in salted boiling water for 30 seconds and plunge into cold water to arrest cooking.
- Fry the Bacon until translucent, then stir in the Onion and cook until the latter is soft.
- Mix the Onion and Bacon with the Cabbage and the herbs and seasonings (except the Bay leaf).
- Layer the Ribs, Potatoes and Cabbage mixture in a Casserole dish with the Bay leaves on top and pour over the Stock and Wine.
- Bake at 325-degrees Fahrenheit for 2 ½ to 3 hours, adding extra stock if needed, until all is cooked through and the Potatoes are tender.
- Serve hot.