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Choucroute Garnie
France - Alsace   -   Choucroute Garnie

6 main  
2-3/4+ hr  

The name means "Garnished Sauerkraut". The French inherited this very popular dish when they acquired Alsace and Lorraine in 1648. While preparation of the sauerkraut is pretty standard, the combination of meats and vegetables is not standardized, though potatoes are usually included. See notes on Method and Presentation.


Jar Sauerkraut (1)  
Bacon, slab (3)
Potatoes (4)
-- Broth
Juniper Berries (5)
Bay Leaf
Parsley sprigs
Stock (6)
Wine, white (7)
-- Garnish
Mixed cured meats (8)  
-- Serve with
Mustards (9)

Prep   -   (45 min)
  1. Drain SAUERKRAUT and wring it out. Soak a few minutes in two changes of water. Drain well and wring out excess water (see Note-2).
  2. Quarter ONIONS lengthwise, then slice medium crosswise.
  3. Peel CARROTS and cut into chunks about 3/4 inch long.
  4. Cut BACON into pieces about 1/4 x 1/4 x 1/2 inch.
  5. Cut MEATS as desired, or leave whole if you wish (see Note-11). Mix all.
  6. Peel POTATOES and cut into chunks or as desired. Put in a pot with plenty of lightly salted water, bring to a boil and simmer until just cooked through. Cool and hold.
  7. Mix together all Broth items.
Run   -   (2 hrs or more)
  1. In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven (you'll need 4-1/2 to 5 quart size), heat Oil and fry Bacon, stirring for a couple minutes. Stir in Onions and fry stirring until translucent but not browned.
  2. Stir in Sauerkraut and Broth mix, cover tightly and simmer slowly for an 1 hour or more - but see Note-10 for traditional method. Monitor liquid, there should be enough for steaming the meats.
  3. Stir Carrots into the Sauerkraut, then place the Meat Mix over the Sauerkraut. Simmer covered for another 45 minutes to an hour, monitoring the liquid. The Sauerkraut should be very wet with some free liquid, but not swimming. Check salt - need depends on your ingredients.
  4. When ready to serve, warm the Potatoes in boiling water or however is convenient for you. Drain.
  5. On a heated platter, lay out Sauerkraut surrounded by Potatoes and garnished with the Meats - or - see Note-11.
  6. Serve with French Bread, Beer or Riesling wine, and Mustards.
  1. Sauerkraut:   a 32 oz (900g) jar will probably be labeled 24 oz (700g - 1-1/2 pound) drained weight, but by time you wring it out really well it'll be about 1 pound. Some fine sauerkrauts are now imported from Poland, my usual brand is Vitarol. Just because sauerkraut comes in a bag rather than a jar doesn't automatically mean it's better. For details see our Sauerkraut page.
  2. Sauerkraut:  French sources say when sauerkraut is cooked in wine it needs to be rinsed until it is no longer briny.
  3. Bacon:   This should be slab bacon so the pieces can be cut appropriately. You may be able to find a good brand of bacon "ends and pieces" that's lean enough and in thick enough pieces to use.
  4. Potatoes:   White Rose or similar work well in recipes of this sort. Avoid Klondike Gold type potatoes - they quickly turn to mush with long cooking. For details see our Potato Page.
  5. Juniper Berries:   These seem a bit hard to find here in Southern California, but are considered essential. One recommendation is to use 1/2 cup of Gin instead. I would recommend a real Dutch Genever (Jenever) which is flavored only with juniper berries rather than mixed with a lot of herbs as in London style Gin.
  6. Stock:   Most recipes call for Chicken stock, but I use Pork stock, which is what I usually have the most of - and all the meats are pork anyway.
  7. Wine:   Riesling is the proper wine to use for this recipe.
  8. Meats:   Most common are smoked pork and various precooked sausages, including Frankfurters, Polish Kielbasa, Bratwurst, etc., and sometimes boiled ham. I wouldn't hesitate to toss in Philippine hamonados either.
  9. Mustard:   Often several different mustards are made available, but good mustards, not that fluorescent yellow stuff.
  10. Method:   Traditionally, this is done in a large Dutch oven, brought to a boil on the stove top, then placed in a 325°F/165°C oven for about 4 hours, with the meats going in for the last hour. Here in Southern California we don't fire up an oven unless we really need to, and don't need our sauerkraut cooked that long, so this recipe uses the stove top.
  11. Presentation:   Chefs often serve this garnished with whole charcoal grilled sausages, large slabs of smoked pork, etc. for an impressive show. My presentation is designed for buffet service, everything in pieces and even mixed a bit, so some clown can't walk off with all the sausages. The photo shows this dish served on a platter, but I usually serve buffet style in an electric skillet set to "keep warm".
  12. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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