A Game Day Feast Fit for a Chef
Sauerkraut with Smoked Pork, Sausage, Frankfurters, and Potatoes for Game Day
While chili, ribs, and seven-layer dips are football standbys, why not consider impressing your fellow fans with something different this year: Choucroute Garni. It might sound complicated, but don’t let the fancy French name scare you away from trying something deliciously different on game days. Pronounced shoo-KROUT gahr-NEE, this dish is a combination of smoked pork, sausage, frankfurters, sauerkraut, and potatoes. Easy to prepare, the recipe can be made ahead of time, then either packed up for tailgating or put out in a crock pot to keep warm on a buffet table.
Choucroute translates into ‘cabbage crust,’ and this German-inspired dish was born along the country’s border with France. Garni refers to the variety of garnishes that are served alongside the dish. Consisting of any combination of pickled cabbage and meat, the feast typically features a variety of sausages, including Frankfurt sausage which served as the predecessor to the modern day frankfurter. Boiled potatoes are the starch of choice, and the dish is seasoned with black pepper, cloves, and juniper berries, along with onions and white wine to sweeten the deal and brighten the flavors.
“Any combination of your favorite sausages from either your local butcher or your favorite supermarket will work perfectly in this dish,” explains CIA Chef-Instructor Cynthia Keller. “I try to find a nice assortment that includes well-spiced knockwursts and bratwursts. If you’d like to lighten up the dish, you can also select a variety of sausages made with leaner meats like chicken.”
The chefs of The Culinary Institute of America have enthusiastically embraced this dish for game day, and thanks to their recipe, you too can enjoy this ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ combination. Serve all the components of this dish on a big platter with slices of French bread, spicy mustard, and your favorite ice-cold beer—and let the game begin!
The following recipe has been adapted from the CIA’s The Professional Chef, 9th Edition (Wiley, 2011). The Professional Chef, iPad Edition, a revolutionary iPad app that PC Magazine calls “a new frontier for books,” is also available at (Wiley, Inkling).
- 5 pounds sauerkraut
- 1 clove garlic
- 8 juniper berries
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig thyme
- 8 to 12 black peppercorns
- 1 carrot
- 1 leek
- 2 branches of celery
- 1 parsnip
- 4 ounces vegetable oil
- 2 medium sliced onions (approximately 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 pounds smoked pork loin
- 1-pound, 4-ounce- slab of bacon, cut into thick slices
- 4 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled
- 1-pound, 4-ounce garlic sausage
- 10 beef frankfurters
- 10 weisswurst (veal and pork sausage)
- Drain the sauerkraut and rinse well in several changes of cold water. Drain and squeeze out water.
- Place the garlic clove and spices in a small square of cheesecloth and tie with butcher’s twine to create a spice “sachet” bag. Tie the carrot, leek, celery, and parsnip with butcher’s twine to create a “bouquet garni.”
- Heat half the vegetable oil in a large “Dutch oven” over medium heat. Add the onions and sweat until tender without browning. Add the garlic and sweat briefly to release aroma. Add the sauerkraut to the onion mixture.
- Add the wine and chicken stock. Bury the spice sachet, vegetable bouquet, and ham hock under the sauerkraut. Bring the liquid to a simmer.
- Place the pork and the bacon on top of the sauerkraut. Cover tightly and braise in a 325-degree F oven for approximately 45 minutes. Add the potatoes, garlic sausage, and frankfurters to the pan, return the cover, and continue to cook approximately 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the frankfurters are heated through. Add more liquid if needed.
- While the potatoes and frankfurters are cooking, place a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the remaining oil. Place the weisswurst in the pan and gently brown on all sides while heating the sausage through.
- Remove the meats from the sauerkraut and keep warm. Slice the pork loin and garlic sausage.
- Spoon the sauerkraut onto a warm platter, and garnish with sliced pork loin, garlic sausage, sliced bacon, frankfurters, weisswurst, and potatoes.
- Serve with mustard and a loaf of crusty French bread. Accompany with a dry Riesling wine from Alsace or your favorite artisan-brewed beer.
Nutrition analysis per 6-ounce ounce: 270 calories, 12g protein, 5g carbohydrate, 21g fat, 1,050mg sodium, 50mg cholesterol, 2g fiber.