Baked Choucroute Recipe and Alsatian Beer, 'Cooking Slow' Oktoberfest Alternative

Give Oktoberfest a French twist with this recipe Cooking Slow, Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More (Chronicle Books, September 2013) by Andrew Schloss.

Slow-baked Choucroute

Choucroute, served at every beer hall in France east of Lorraine, is the hot dog and sauerkraut dish of Alsace. Because cooking choucroute is more a matter of marrying flavors than cooking ingredients to doneness, your timing can extend or shrink to fit your schedule. But remember, the longer the choucroute simmers in the low heat, the deeper the flavors will get—and this easy-to-assemble dish yields an instant dinner picnic without any work from you after it goes in the oven. Feel free to vary the sausages according to what’s available. Serve with brown mustard, a nice rye bread, and cold beer or white wine.

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 4½ to 8½ hours
store: for up to 3 days, covered in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a low oven.
Makes 8 servings

4 bacon strips
»»3 lb/1.4 kg sauerkraut, drained
»»12 small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved
»»1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
»»2 bay leaves
»»8 juniper berries
»»⅛ tsp ground cloves
»»1 tsp ground coriander
»»3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
»»Freshly ground black pepper
»»1 lb/455 g boneless smoked pork butt, cut into 8 slices
»»4 knockwurst, quartered
»»4 bratwurst, quartered
»»One 12-oz/360-ml bottle lager beer


Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C.

In a large Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is almost completely crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then crumble. Put the sauerkraut in a bowl, add the crumbled bacon, and toss to mix.

Return the pot with the bacon fat to medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add half of the sauerkraut to the pot and spread in an even layer. Scatter half of all the spices and the garlic over the top, and arrange the pork slices and sausages on top. Cover with the remaining sauerkraut and spices. Pour the beer over all. Cover and bake for 4 to 8 hours.
Serve hot or warm.

Variation: in a slow cooker
Following the recipe, cook the bacon in a large skillet, then cook the potatoes and onion in the fat. Layer everything in a 6-qt/5.7-l slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

(* Recipe reproduced from 'Cooking Slow' by Andrew Schloss- Chronicle Books, September 2013- Photographs by Alan Benson, all rights reserved)

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