Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sauerkraut a l'alsacienne

     Sauerkraut is popular in several regions of Europe.  Many food historians say that Alsace, France is where sauerkraut was first created.  The correct sauerkraut to use for this recipe is salt fermented sauerkraut or regular sauerkraut.  Wine packed sauerkraut and sweet Bavarian sauerkraut are better for other recipes.
     I chose boneless country style pork rib meat for this Alsace style entree.  Country style pork ribs are not really from the rib section.  They are a cut from the shoulder section that is closest to the rib section.  Excess fat can easily be trimmed off of country style pork rib meat.  This cut of pork is perfect for cooking with sauerkraut.
     Almost any pork cut, as well as any kind of pork sausages are commonly baked with sauerkraut in Alsace.  Alsace style sauerkraut is usually sweetened with apples or carrots.  Bits of salt pork, smoked pork or ham often flavors Alsace sauerkraut.  Juniper berries, fennel or thyme can be used to flavor this style of sauerkraut.  Caraway seed is usually added to German styles of sauerkraut.
     Sauerkraut a l'alsacienne:
     This recipe makes 1 large serving!  Alsace style pork sausages can be added to this recipe.
     Soak about 10 dried juniper berries in water overnight in a refrigerator to soften them.
     Rinse 1 3/4 cups of regular salt fermented sauerkraut twice with cold running water.
     Place the sauerkraut in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 of a peeled cored apple that is medium diced.
     Note:  Slice the other half of the apple into wedges and set them aside, till later in the recipe.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped onion.
     Add 1 minced garlic garlic clove.
     Add the soaked juniper berries.
     Add 3 ounces of bite size salt pork pieces that have been soaked in water, till some of the salt content is leached out.
     Add 1 pinch of fennel seeds.
     Add black pepper to the kraut.
     Add a bouquet garni sachet of rosemary, thyme and bay leaf to the kraut.
     Toss the sauerkraut ingredients together.
     Place the sauerkraut mixture in a roasting pan.
     Place the reserved apple wedges next to the sauerkraut. 
     Place 4 thick boneless country style pork rib slices that weigh about 2 ounces apiece on top of the sauerkraut.
     Place 1 portion of peeled thick carrot sticks next to the sauerkraut.
     Place 4 whole small purple potatoes next to the kraut.
     Add enough water to barely cover the kraut.
     Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on the pork.
     Cover the roasting pan with a loose fitting lid.
     Bake in a 300 degree oven, till the pork and potatoes become fully cooked and till the sauerkraut becomes tender.  It may be necessary to flip the pork a few times, so it does not brown.
     Place the apple wedges, carrots and potatoes on a plate as vegetable accompaniments.
     Drain off the excess water off of the sauerkraut.
     Remove and discard the bouquet garni sachet.
     Place the sauerkraut on the plate as a bed for the pork.
     Place the slices of country style pork rib on top of the sauerkraut.
     Baking all of the ingredients in one pan is traditional.  The apples and carrots help to sweeten the sauerkraut.  The juniper berries, fennel seed and herbs add a nice flavor.  It is necessary to cook sauerkraut with pork fats, so the sliced salt pork is added for more than just flavor.
     Why do people usually associate sauerkraut with only German cuisine?  Who knows!  This Alsace style sauerkraut recipe is old fashioned French!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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