Choucroute garnie—a pot filled with smoked pork butt, bacon, sausage, potatoes, sauerkraut, and spices—is French comfort food. And it can be made in a slow cooker.
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 5 H, 15 M
- Serves 8
Special Equipment: 6-quart slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)
If cooking the choucroute garnie in the oven, preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C).
If cooking the choucroute garnie in a slow cooker, see the Slow-Cooker Variation beneath the recipe.
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. Reserve the drippings and transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Put the sauerkraut in a bowl, crumble the cooled bacon over the top, and toss. Set aside.
Return the pot with the bacon drippings to medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Add half the sauerkraut and bacon jumble to the pot with the onions and potatoes and toss to coat. Spread it in an even layer. In a small bowl, combine the bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, coriander, black pepper, and garlic. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the sauerkraut mixture in the pot 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 4 1/2 hours. (The “cooking” is more a matter of warming everything and allowing the flavors to get cozy with one another, so the timing doesn’t have to be exact. Although the longer the choucroute simmers, the more complex the flavors.) Serve warm with brown mustard, rye bread, and beer on the side. (If you want to make the choucroute ahead of time or if you have leftovers, you can cool the choucroute garnie, cover it, and stash it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat gently, covered, in a low oven prior to serving.)
Slow-Cooker Choucroute Garnie Variation
Cook the bacon in a large skillet and then cook the potatoes and onion in the bacon drippings, as directed. Then layer everything in a 6-quart slow cooker instead of in a pot, beginning with the potatoes and onions followed by layers of sauerkraut and bacon and spices, and finally the pork and beer. Cook on low for 4 to 8 hours.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
There's not much I would change in this choucroute garnie recipe. I cooked it in the oven at 250°F for 4 hours. It was definitely ready at this point. There was a lovely, rich broth in the pot that released a beautiful aroma of blended spices. All the meat was tender and well-cooked. I did start my oven at 200°F, but since I had to get the meal on the table by dinnertime, I cranked the oven up after the first half hour. In addition to the smoked pork butt, I used veal and chicken knockwurst and some very nice Niman Ranch beef bratwurst. As the author points out, the selection of meats can be varied based on what's available in the market. I believe 4 hours braising time is all that's needed for this recipe. I don't think the flavors would be that more developed with 4 more hours cooking.
What great comfort food this choucroute garnie is! When I saw this recipe I immediately knew I had to make it. It was all I could think about for the 5 days before I had time to pick up the ingredients and make it. I've never tried anything like this before, so I was more than happy to hop on and go for a ride on the culinary train to the Alsace region of France. I started my journey by heading to an authentic German deli, which was a first for me and an adventure in itself. I picked up some sauerkraut, bratwurst, knockwurst, smoked pork butt, and authentic German mustard. A slow cooker worked great for my first attempt at this recipe. What a meal to come home to! Within 4 1/2 hours on low, all the ingredients were heated through. My suggestion is to place just over the half the potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker so the potatoes can slowly cook in the liquid from the sauerkraut. (The potatoes cook better at the bottom rather than the top of the Crock Pot.) I quickly browned the sausages in the same pot I browned the potatoes and onions to give them a nice outside texture and appearance, and it only took 5 to 10 more minutes, tops. I served it with a nice mustard—Alstertor Dusseldorf Style Mustard (in a glass beer mug-style jar). It was creamy, tangy, and paired perfectly with the meal. I used a pair of kitchen shears to cut the bacon into lardons so that I didn't have to crumble it later. It was an incredibly comforting and delicious meal which my family enjoyed just as much as I did. And yes, this recipe did, indeed, transport us to France for the evening. Without any nudging on my part, we reminisced about our travels to France at the table.