Yesterday was a cold and rainy day. Our weather has been so unseasonably warm this Spring that I had already cleaned out my kitchen fireplace and placed a crockery bowl filled with dried hydrangeas in it. But yesterday was a perfect day for a fire. The flower arrangement came out and the logs were laid.
Now you are probably thinking I cooked that beautiful platter of sausages, potatoes, carrots and sauerkraut in my dutch oven over the coals. It would have been a good idea, but I had a new cookbook and there was a recipe that I wanted to try.
My blogging buddy, the other Penny of The Comforts of Home, and I met for shopping and lunch on Tuesday in Asheville. We met at one of our favorite stores, The Screen Door, where they sell antiques. But they also have a dynamite book department devoted mainly to cookbooks and design and gardening books. I always come home with at least one book. What is not to love about this book? My passion for all things French is well known and I have been using my slow cooker quite often lately. A perfect fit.
What was also a perfect fit was the lunch we had at a French bistro called Fig.
We both chose the Salmon with couscous, micro greens, and lemon chive beurre. All I can say is that if I could master this salmon dish at home I would feel that I was a chef- worthy cook. The salmon was so crispy on the top with a coarse salt finish and so tender and flaky inside that we both were in awe of the dish.
So it was a great day with sunshine and warm temperatures. Check out Penny’s blog for a glimpse of some of the shopping we did.
When Wednesday dawned with rain and cold temperatures, I thought it is time to make some comfort food from my new French slow cooker cookbook. The choucroute garni sounded like the perfect recipe to try.
Bratwursts, kielbasa and smoked pork chops are all cooked in a white wine infused sauerkraut with potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic cloves tucked in. Choucroute Garni is a dish from the Alsace region of France. Because of its proximity to Germany, the food has Germanic links. Pork and Sauerkraut are prevalent in many of its dishes.
It is best served with black bread, grainy mustard, horseradish and cornichons or sweet pickles. This was a perfect recipe for the slow cooker. You will need a large one.
CHOUCROUTE GARNI ( SAUSAGES WITH SAUERKRAUT)
2 pounds sauerkraut
6 medium waxy potatoes
1 large onion, sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
10 juniper berries, lightly crushed (could not find)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 whole cloves
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
6 cooked bratwursts (I sauteed them in a frying pan until browned and cooked through)
1 pound kielbasa, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 smoked pork chops (I used boneless and cut them in half)
1 cup dry white wine
Rinse the sauerkraut well in a colander under cool running water. Squeeze the sauerkraut to remove the liquid.
Place half of the sauerkraut in a large slow cooker, separating the pieces with your fingers. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, juniper berries, caraway seeds, cloves, thyme and bay leaves. Arrange the remaining sauerkraut on top.
Push the sausages and pork chops down into the sauerkraut. Add the wine. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. Mine took only 7 hours and I added a little more liquid half way through cooking.
Arrange the meats, sauerkraut, and potatoes and carrots on a large platter. Discard the bay leaves. Serve with black bread, grainy mustard cornichons and horseradish. Serves 6 to 8.