This recipe is one of my own invention which borrows elements from Bigos, the Polish national dish, and Choucroute, the Alsatian classic. All three recipes use copious amounts of sauerkraut and pork to provide hearty warming fare for the winter months. It’s another of my one-pot dishes which I typically cook in advance and reheat upon my return from riding my bike or which will happily bubble away in the oven on a low heat while I’m out.
It must be said that the quality of the two main ingredients – pork and sauerkraut – are key to the success of the dish. I use an Alsatian sauerkraut that’s been mellowed in goose fat and Riesling wine. If you can only find the tinned variety can I suggest that you wash it in a sieve to remove the obviously vinegary taste and cook slowly on the top of the stove over a low heat with some chopped onion, apples, a splash of white wine and, if you like, a tablespoon of duck or goose fat. You’ll then be good to go. I cannot stress enough that this is such a simple yet tasty dish.
Ingredients (serves six hungry cyclists)
- 2 kg (4 lb) sauerkraut
- 1 kg (2 lb) pork mix
- 250ml (1 cup) eau de vie (optional)
1. Boil the sausages in some water to degrease them. Then skin and chop them into bite-sized pieces along with the cooked pork loin and garlic sausage. The piece of ham centre stage (photo above) is the end of a parma ham and it’s added to the dish purely as a flavour enhancer.
2. Put half the sauerkraut into an ovenproof lidded dish (dutch oven), pile in the pork and cover with the remaining half and add a cup of alcohol or just water.
3. Cover the dish with a dampened circle of greaseproof (parchment) paper, pop on the lid and put into a pre-heated oven at 160°C /140°C fan/gas mark 3 (320°F/275°F fan) to cook for as long as you like, but not less than four hours.
4. Serve with some slices of rye bread and a green salad or leave to cool overnight, skim off any excess fat and reheat in a low oven once you’ve gotten back from your ride.
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. I find that the dish doesn’t need any more seasoning although you could always add a tablespoon of caraway seeds and one of juniper berries to dial up the German vibe. Alternatively, a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a couple of bay leaves will add a nice mellow note.
2. Frankly any mix of pork will be fine but try to have a blend of lean meats with flavourful sausages.
3. If you want to add cubes of bacon, pancetta or belly pork can I suggest that you cook these beforehand to render down the fat and crisp up the meat before adding it to the mix.
4. Like many of these types of one-pot dishes, I do find it tastes better re-heated the following day.