Sauerkraut: what to drink with this Alsatian dish?
Sauerkraut , from the German “sauerkraut”, is a dish found in many European countries, especially from France to Romania. It is also one of the most famous dishes of Alsatian gastronomy . Basically, it is not a complete dish but simply white cabbage fermented in a brine .
However, there is a real dish made up of sauerkraut and several types of meat and charcuterie, including sausages. We then speak of “ garnished sauerkraut ”.
The history of sauerkraut
This way of preparing cabbage, by fermentation, was invented in the 3rd century in China. It was served to the builders of the Great Wall of China to protect them from the cold.
It is thought that it would be Atilla and the Huns who would have spread the recipe to Alsace in 451. It is therefore probably around this date that Europe begins to ferment vegetables to better preserve them . Nevertheless, in France, it was not until the 19th century that we heard about sauerkraut garnished.
The recipe for garnished sauerkraut
There is no single, absolute recipe for garnished sauerkraut. It's all about adding the toppings you like, in the proportions you want. Simply put, have fun!
For the ingredients, you will need:
- 1 raw white cabbage,
- 1 onion,
- smoked bacon (300gr),
- salted collar (400gr),
- sausages (from Montbéliard and Viennese),
- bay leaves,
- juniper berries,
- a few cloves, Caraway,
- some potatoes,
- a little dry white wine (preferably an Alsatian wine, such as Riesling).
You can accompany this with a shank and a smoked blade.
Step 1: the smoked meat
Cook the blade and the shank in a few liters of water for 1h30 to 2h (depending on the size). Keep the casing water and reserve the meat.
Step 2: cabbage
Sweat the chopped onion in a pan, then set aside. Cut the cabbage into thin strips then wash it 2 or 3 times. Once drained, put half in a terracotta terrine. Add the onion, bay leaf, juniper berries and caraway. Sprinkle with two glasses of the meat's cooking water (and top it up again, if it's still cooking) and a glass of wine. Cover everything with the rest of the cabbage. Press so that all the cabbage is in contact with the liquid. Close the terrine, and put it in the oven at 210 degrees for 1h30.
Step 3: The bacon and the collar
Once out of the oven, open the terrine and remove about half of the cabbage. Add the bacon and the collar, then cover them with the cabbage that you have removed. Put the terrine back in the oven for 2h30.
Step 4: Finish your preparation
Add the cut ham and blade to the terrine. Be careful that everything soaks in the liquid. (Add meat juice if needed). Put everything back in the oven for 10 minutes.
Boil the potatoes and add them to your sauerkraut. The same goes for the sausages (count cooking for 20 minutes).
Everything that is cooked before the rest must remain in the oven (in the terrine).
To serve, remove the meats and bay leaves. In a dish, arrange the sauerkraut and add the meat in domes.
Instead of using wine, it is also possible to wash down the dish with beer or cider . However, it is advisable to match this to what you want to drink during the tasting .
Similarly, some people replace the meat with fish, to create a sauerkraut from the sea. So, do not hesitate to find out about the different recipes that exist around sauerkraut.
What to drink with sauerkraut?
A dry white wine
Sauerkraut is a fairly acidic dish, so pair it with a light, dry white wine . You should know that the cabbage – white wine alliance is always a winner.
The ideal is to drink the wine used in the recipe.
Sauerkraut being a typical Alsatian dish, let's put the white wines of this region in the spotlight. Riesling and Sylvaner work very well. Pinot Blanc will be an excellent ally with this dish.
Otherwise, you can turn to Sancerre or dry Vouvray . Finally, a Chablis also works well for lovers of Burgundy .
Alternatives to white wine
The Red wine
Red wine lovers can be reassured: sauerkraut can go very well with the flavors of smoked bacon. On the other hand, be careful to balance the aromas with the acidity of the dish. So, avoid tannic wines. We recommend supple wines, such as Pinot Noirs from Alsace . Otherwise, choose a wine from Tourraine or Sancerre.
Finally, it is difficult to talk about sauerkraut without mentioning beer , another star of the Alsatian terroirs. If you are unfamiliar with Alsatian beers, turn to German or Belgian beers, which are generally quite strong in taste.
To stay in Alsace , it is quite possible to swap wine and beer for a good Crémant. It will be perfect for accompany the sauerkraut and to season it by adding a few drops to the preparation. And you can even garnish it with a few roasted apples. The crémant will have the particularity of adding a fruity and original note to the sauerkraut.