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Alsatian Choucroute

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 12:12
Here are two recipes and a nice write-up, from Culinaria: France (2004):

Quote Every village in Alsace is said to have its own recipe for choucroute...a delicious meal made with fermented white cabbage which is served under an impressive mountain of mixed sausages, bacon, salted shoulder, smoked ham and potatoes. Enjoyed with a jug of beer, a glass of Riesling or Sylvaner wine, choucroute is synonymous with Alsace.

The pale green white cabbage heads are decidedly larger than normal ones available in the shops. Magnificent examples can reach up to 15 pounds (7 kg) and are known as quintals d'Alsace, Alsatian hundredweights. They are mainly grown in the north of the region in and around Krautergersheim and are harvested between July and November. The outer leaves and the heart are removed. The cabbage is shredded as finely as possible. Today this is generally carried out automatically in a choucrouterie.

Years ago there were people who made a living going from door to door offering their services to shred the cabbage, because every family laid down their own supplies for the winter. When the season is in full flow there are still cabbage cutters who demonstrate their skill in the markets and the characteristic smell of freshly-cut cabbage fills the air.

To make sauerkraut, alternate layers of cabbage and salt are laid out in tall earthen pots or wooden barrels. If large quantities are to be produced, concrete or plastic tanks are used. Juniper berries often add extra flavor. The layers are pressed together - in domestic use with a wooden lid, with a stone placed on top - and the pots or barrels are sealed and made airtight. The salt draws moisture from the cabbage and forms brine, which protects it. Depending on the temperature, fermentation takes three to eight weeks to transform the cabbage. It loses half of its weight, but the process makes it easy to keep for a longer time. It has also become a healthy and easily-digested food, thanks to various trace elements and vitamins.

Before the age of sterilization, deep-freezing and vacuum-packing, sauerkraut guaranteed the population of the country adequate supplies of Vitamin C in winter. Consequently it provided ideal nourishment for seafarers and protected them from scurvy. It must be crunchy, light-colored and have a pleasant smell. The local saying is absolutely right: "Sauerkraut is only good when it has been re-heated seven times."

Cabbage comes from China. The workers that built the Great Wall were kept in good health by eating fermented cabbage. Mongols and Tatars later introduced it to Europe, and in the Balkans fermented vegetables have a long tradition. Alsatians have liked sauerkraut since the Middle Ages and one suspects that they are able to enjoy it so much because there is always so much pork appetizingly served with it: smoked and green bacon, smoked pork shoulder...kasseler or schiffala (pickled and smoked pork shoulder)...boiled pork, knuckle of pork and liver dumplings, bratwurst (frying sausage), blutwurst (blood sausage), smoked sausage, knackwurst (little Strasbourg sausages), and fleischwurst (made with finely minced pork); it is just coincidental that new sauerkraut finishes its fermenting process at the same time as local meat production.


Choucroute à l'ancienne
Traditional Sauerkraut

To serve 8:

4 pounds, 6 ounces (2 kg) fresh raw sauerkraut
2 bacon rinds
2 carrots
2 onions
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 garlic cloves
4 cloves
12 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1 knuckle of pork
2 finger-thick slices of streaky ham*
1/2 bottle of dry Riesling wine
4 smoked Montbéliard sausages
21 ounces (600 g) Schiffala smoked pork shoulder
4 pairs knackwurst (little Strasbourg sausages)
1 boiled Morteau sausage

*(Ron's note: I think they meant to say "streaky bacon" here, see procedure below.)

Wash the sauerkraut in a sieve under flowing water, pull it apart and press out the water.

Arrange bacon rinds on the bottom of a large cast iron pot. Add half the sauerkraut. Clean the carrots and peel the onions, cut into pieces and spread on the sauerkraut. Sprinkle the peppercorns evenly over it. Tie the remaining spices with thyme in a muslin bag and add to the vegetables. Add the pork knuckle and bacon and cover with the remaining sauerkraut. Pour on the wine and 1 cup (250 ml) of water.

Cover the pot well, place in the oven and cook for about 2.5 hours at 355 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Place the smoked sausage and smoked pork shoulder in the pot under the sauerkraut. Cook for another 30 minutes. Place the Strasbourg knackwurst and boiled sausage on the sauerkraut and cook again for 20 minutes. Remove the muslin bag. Serve the sauerkraut with meat and sausages. A well-cooled Sylvaner or Riesling wine goes well with this dish.


Choucroute Maison
Homemade Sauerkraut

To serve 6 to 8:

1 pickled pork knuckle (demi sel)
2 finger-thick slices of streaky bacon
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 Cervelat sausage
3 to 4 pairs of Strasbourg knackwurst sausages
3 pounds 5 ounces (1.5 kg) fresh raw sauerkraut
3 tablespoons goose drippings
3 onions
2 bay leaves
10 juniper berries
3 cloves
1/2 bottle dry Alsace Riesling

Rinse the knuckle and the bacon, place in cold water with peppercorns and simmer at a low temperature for 75 minutes. Add the boiled sausages and knackwurst and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Wash the sauerkraut in a sieve under flowing water, take it apart and press out the water. Heat the drippings in a cast iron pot. Peel the onions, finely chop them and lightly braise. Add the sauerkraut, bay leaves, juniper berries and cloves. Pour on the Riesling and add water until the sauerkraut is completely covered. Cover and cook at a low temperature for 40 minutes.

Pile up the sauerkraut on a large plate. Cut the knuckle and bacon into pieces and the Cervelat sausage into pieces and surround these with the small sausages. Serve with boiled potatoes. In Alsace, they drink beer with this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 September 2018 at 13:18
Here is an historical perspective on the making of sauerkraut, from none other than Alexandre Dumas:

Originally posted by Akexandre Dumas Akexandre Dumas wrote:

The sauerkraut is kept in barrels, containing vinegar, wine or another fermenting liquid.... The cabbage is sliced, by grating it with a sort of plane.... The bottom of the barrel is covered with a bed of sea salt and then on this a layer of cabbage cut into strips is placed. Then a handful of juniper berries or caraway seeds is sprinkled on it to give flavor. This is repeated, layer after layer, until the barrel is full.... The last salt layer is covered with large, green cabbage leaves, on top of which a large damp sheet and a rather heavy barrel lid are laid.... The cabbage compressed together in this way exudes a foul smelling, sour, dirty liquid, which can be...drawn off through a tap and replaced by a fresh salt solution...until the strong smell disappears.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 October 2018 at 12:52
My attempt of this dish for FotW's first annual Choucroute Day - 29 September 2018 - went pretty well; I was able to get it made, and in my opinion it tasted very good. The family seemed to enjoy it as well, so that is always a bonus.

I will try to give a detailed account here; it may ramble a bit and run over itself somewhat, but I figure that's better than missing any details. If anyone has any questions or needs any clarification, please do ask so that I can provide answers and clarify this post.

Notes on some of the ingredients:

I started with the sauerkraut that I had made exactly five weeks before from 1.5 average-sized heads of white cabbage; it spent 2 weeks fermenting in my closet, then three weeks "maturing" in the refrigerator. On the morning that I finally was ready to use it, it looked and smelled great! I tested a small bit, and found that it had a great crunch and it wasn't too salty at all, with a nice, rich sourness. It was so good as it was that I almost didn't want to rinse it out for my Choucroute, but I did anyway, trusting the recipes that I was using.

Another key ingredient in my Choucroute was a small rack of loin back pork ribs that I had purchased a day or two before; following Jacques Pépin's instructions in one of the posts above this one, I made a petit salé of the ribs the night before preparing the Choucroute. Using this technique added a nice touch to the meal, in my opinion.

I had planned on using some of my home-cured-and-smoked Black Forest Bacon for this project; unfortunately, it "mysteriously disappeared," as so many of my specialty products or ingredients seem to do in a house full of kids. No matter; I went instead with the thickest-sliced, best-quality bacon that I could find in in our small-town grocery.

The "recipe" and method that I used to make this was a sort of an amalgam of the reading that I had done on this thread; it's probably not a true, authentic way to do it, but results were really nice. I prepared my Choucroute in an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven smeared with duck fat, based on my home-made sauerkraut, onions and garlic; spiced with a rustic "Old-Style" mustard from Maille, black pepper, cloves, juniper berries and a bouquet garni consisting of bay leaves, thyme and parsley. The sauerkraut was "garnished" with bratwurst, smoked sausage, smoked frankfurters, thick-sliced smoked bacon, sliced smoked ham, home-cured pork back ribs and baby Dutch potatoes (3 per person). I braised the dish in a combination of roasted chicken stock and a Montana-vinted Riesling from Mission Mountain Wineries.

After smearing the sides and bottom of the Dutch oven with duck fat, the sauerkraut, sliced onions and crushed garlic cloves (I used 4) were mixed together on the bottom, with the bouquet garni buried therein and the mustard, black pepper, juniper berries and cloves (I used 4) spread around on top. I then placed the baby potatoes (3 for each person) on top of the sauerkraut in the centre of the casserole, with the bratwursts, frankfurters and sausages arranged around the potatoes. Next, I topped everything with the bacon, some ham slices and the petit salé ribs, which had been rinsed and patted dry. Finally, I added about 2.5 cups of Riesling with a tablespoon of roasted chicken base mixed in, then covered the Dutch oven and put it into a cold oven. Purely on a guess and a whim, I set the oven for 340 degrees and 2.5 hours, then left everything alone.

This guess on time and temperature turned out to be spot-on, from what I can tell. After 2.5 hours, I removed the Dutch oven from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes or so; when I took the cover off, this is what I saw (please forgive the bad lighting):



The aroma coming up from the Dutch oven was wonderful! I have made bastardized versions of this before, but this was the first time I've consciously set out to emulate a true Alsatian Choucroute. Seeing and smelling the results, I was very pleased; all that remained was to taste it.

The butler was polishing the china and the silver that day, so we had to make do with plastic:



Note: this photo is only to show the different meats involved; once I got it all on the plate, I realized it was simply too much, and cut all of the meats in half. I also added more sauerkraut to each plate, because it was really smelling nice; even my youngest son, who is no fan of store-bought sauerkraut, wanted more than I had originally plated, based solely on the aroma that was wafting up from my home-made sauerkraut in the casserole.

Where the meats were concerned, my idea was to go with a "per person" guess on portions (there were 4 of us eating): 1 bratwurst, 2 slices of bacon, 1 ham slice, 1 section of ribs, 1 frankfurter etc. It was a good idea, but for the sheer volume of food involved, I should have halved my expectations. Ironically, the amount of meat that I did use seemed to be just about right for the amount of sauerkraut that I had; in the final analysis, I simply should have invited 4 or six more people to dinner, and everything would have been perfect, I think. No worries - now we have plenty of leftovers for the coming week!

I truly liked this, and so did the family. Everything went together very well with seasonings, the Riesling and the smoke flavor from the meats. It was a huge meal, but very good. The sauerkraut itself - for me - was probably the best part - full of a whole array of flavours from the entire list of ingredients; however, the home-cured ribs, using Pépin's method, were very good, too, and a personal victory for me, as I had never attempted a true petit salé before. The rest of the meats and potatoes were all done very well; the bacon, which I had placed above the sausages, was not soggy, and the ribs were tender and juicy. The only thing that I might do differently next time would be to layer the ham slices below the bacon, rather than above, so that the renderings from the bacon can keep the ham a bit more moist.

I know that at least two other forum members - possibly more - were going to give this project a try; I eagerly await their results, and hope that this experience inspires more people to consider it for the future. You don't have to wait until next year's Choucroute Day - this is a perfect dish to prepare as we head into fall!

Ron
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In the course of my research on Choucoute, I've encountered three major variations of this dish: there is the version that I have made, with a selection of fresh and smoked pork products; there is another version featuring freshwater fish, which is also quite traditional; finally, a little off the beaten path, there is a version using seafood, called Choucroute de la Mer.

While perusing some recipes of this third, delicious-looking incarnation, I learned that Choucroute de la Mer is normally served with a Beurre Blanc sauce, based on shallots, butter, white wine and cream. You can find a recipe for buerre blanc here:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beurre-blanc-233266

Having said this, there is always room for a creative mind with a good idea; I came across a recipe on one blog, titled Cahir Gourmand (Gourmet Book) that really struck my interest. The blogger - who is not fond of buerre blanc - improvises a beer sauce with elements of a Provincial sauce rouille, resulting in something that really looks nice, in my opinion.


Photo Credit: http://cahiergourmand.canalblog.com/archives/2007/11/26/7023234.html

Here is the recipe, in the original French:

Quote Choucroute de la mer, sauce à la bière et rouille safranée

INGREDIENTS POUR 4 :

1,5 kg de chou cru
1 oignon
Baies de genièvre
1 feuille de laurier
1 belle queue de lotte (800 g environ)
4 dorades grises
500 g de haddock
1 filet de saumon
4 belles langoustines
200 g de crevettes roses
300 g de moules de bouchot
Riesling ou autre vin blanc sec

Sauce à la bière :

3 échalotes grises
10 cl bière ambrée
15 cl de fumet poisson maison
3 pistils de safran
20 cl crème fleurette
45 g de [sauce] rouille

PREPARATION :

Cuisson du chou :

Passer le chou sous l'eau et l'égoutter entre les mains. La blanchir quelques instants dans de l'eau bouillante.

Mettre une noix de beurre (ou saindoux) dans une cocotte et faire revenir l'oignon. Ajouter le chou, les baies de genièvre, une feuille de laurier, et mouiller avec le vin blanc (compléter avec de l'eau si necessaire). Laisser cuire doucement pendant 1h30.

Cuisson des fruits de mer :

Ouvir les moules dans un verre de vin blanc, décoquiller et réserver (garder le jus de cuisson).

Cuire les langoustines dans un bouillon parfumé pendant 3 min.

Dessaler le haddock et le mettre à cuire à petits frémissements dans du lait, un peu de poivre pendant 10 min.

Couper le filet de saumon en 4 et le cuire en papillottes au four pendant quelques min.

Lever ou faire lever les filets de dorade (les parures serviront à réaliser le fumet) et les cuire côté peau à la poêle 3 min.

Parer la queue de lotte, enlever l'arête centrale et lever les 2 filets.

Couper les filets en tronçons et les cuire au court-bouillon pendant 5 min.

Terminer la cuisson en les passant au beurre quelques min.

Préparer la sauce :

Mettre les échalotes ciselées et la bière dans une casserole et faire réduire de moitié.

Ajouter le fumet de poisson et faire encore réduire de moitié.

Ajouter la crème, le safran et faire réduire jusqu'à onctuoisité.

Au moment de servir, ajouter la rouille, chauffer sans ébullition. Réserver (elle se réchauffe sans problème).

http://cahiergourmand.canalblog.com/archives/2007/11/26/7023234.html


Here is an excellent translation for this Choucroute de la Mer that I received from a friend in Europe, along with some notes, clarifications and two recipes for the sauce rouille


Quote Choucroute of the sea, sauce with beer, saffron and rouille

INGREDIENTS FOR 4:

1.5 kg of raw choucroute (fermented white cabbage)
1 onion
Juniper berries
1 bay leaf
1 big monkfish tail (about 800 g)
4 sea breams
500 g of salted haddock
1 salmon fillet
4 big langoustines
200 g of prawns
300 g of mussels
Riesling or other dry white wine


Sauce with beer :

3 shallots
10 cl amber beer
15 cl of homemade fish stock
3 saffron threads
20 cl whipping cream
45 g of sauce rouille

Notes:

Let's assume that fermented white cabbage is called choucroute cru in French or (raw) choucroute in English.

"Beautiful” monkfish and ditto langoustines are too literally translated. It should be translated as nice "big" ones.

By bream, the recipe means to use sea bream, not the fresh water type!

The haddock used is salted haddock. It can simply be replaced by salted cod, also known as bacalao.

Bouchot mussels are quite small mussels but entirely packed with mussel flesh, from the northern part of France. These mussels are probably not found anywhere in the US, except in top restaurants. Simply use other fresh mussels.

Grey shallots; in France you will find different variations of shallots. Simply use what is available.


Cooking the choucroute:

Rinse the choucroute in water and drain between your hands. Blanche shortly in boiling water.

Put a knob of butter (or lard) in a cooking pot and fry the onion. Add choucroute, juniper berries, bay leaf and white wine (add water if necessary). Cook gently for 1 h 30 min.


Cooking the seafood :

Cook the mussels until just opened in a glass of white wine. Take them out of the shells and set aside (keep the cooking juices).

Cook the langoustines in a fragrant broth for 3 min.

Desalt the haddock and cook it in simmering milk with a little pepper added for 10 minutes.

Cut the salmon fillet into 4 and bake loosely wrapped in aluminium foil or baking paper (en papillotte) for a few minutes.

Take the fillets off from the sea bream fillets or let it do (the remaining parts will be used to make the fish stock). Cook the fillets skin side down in the frying pan for 3 min.

Trim the monkfish tail, remove the central bone and take the 2 fillets off.

Cut the fillets into sections and cook them in court-bouillon for 5 min.

Finish cooking by lightly frying them in butter for a few minutes.


Preparing the sauce :

Put finely chopped shallots and beer in a saucepan and reduce by half.

Add the fish stock and again reduce by half.

Add the cream and saffron and reduce until slightly thickened.

When serving, add the rouille, warmed without boiling (boiling will split the sauce!). Set sauce aside (it warms up without any problem).


As noted above, one of the components of the beer sauce is 45 grams of sauce rouille, known colloquially as "rust." My friend also offered some notes and two recipes for making sauce rouille at home; here they are:

Quote Rouille is an addition to fish soups etc. Served in a small ramequin is the way it is presented. You usually smear it on a round of toasted baguette, eat it like that with the soup or dunk it in the soup. There are a few variations, using potatoes or bread as a base, and so on.

If you look at a recipe, you can see that a sauce rouille is in fact none other than a mayo: egg yolk, mustard and oil, with some additions.

The simplest way to make it is to torch a red bell pepper until it is blackened, then put it in a plastic bag to cool. It will then be easier to peel. Mix the pepper finely, add some good mayo, some garlic, 2 or 3 threads of saffron and some harissa or chile powder. Rouille is served cold but it has to be very hot (spicy) from the chile powder or harissa; if you do not have harissa, you can substitute with siracha.

Here is another recipe, with a photo:

Quote Sauce Rouille



Ingrédients

1 jaune d'oeuf
20 cl d'huile
2 gousses d'ail
1 cuill. à café de moutarde
1 cuill. à café de paprika en poudre
1 pincée de safran
1 pincée de piment d’Espelette en poudre
sel

Recette:

Presser les gousses d’ail.

Mélanger le jaune d’œuf avec le paprika en poudre, le safran, piment, le sel, la moutarde et l’ail écrasé.

Quand le mélange est homogène, ajouter l’huile d’olive en filet tout en remuant vivement avec un fouet, comme pour monter une mayonnaise.

Une fois que la rouille est complètement montée, gouter et rectifier l’assaisonnement.

http://www.ptitecuisinedepauline.com/article-rouille-115442389.html


Here is an English translation:

Quote Ingredients:

1 egg yolk
20 cl olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tsp of sweet paprika powder
1 pinch of saffron
1 pinch of piment d'Espelette can be replaced by chili powder
salt

Recipe:

Squeeze the garlic through a garlic press.

Mix the egg yolk with paprika powder, saffron, chili, salt, mustard and crushed garlic.

When the mixture is smooth, add the oil in very tiny amounts at a time and whisk as for making a mayonnaise.

Once the rouille is ready, taste and adjust seasoning.


To add to the "collective wisdom," Here is one more recipe, from Epicurious:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/rouille-238412

If I were to make this sauce, I would try to get my hands on some piment d'Espelette; here are a couple of options:

http://a.co/d/0Zjn6YA

http://a.co/d/c2rDcZS

If for some reason making the sauce rouille is not an option, the blogger who invented this choucroute recipe explains that she purchased hers already prepared; if you go choose to that route, here is one source:

http://a.co/d/7CgeaHi

This recipe - and the beer sauce in particular - really interest me. As I was telling Mike, I could easily see it featured on the menu of a restaurant along the 101 in the Pacific Northwest. I would like to try a simplified version of this someday, using maybe one or two proteins....we'll see!

Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2018 at 04:02

Ron,

Your Classic  Choucroute looks wonderful ..  And an exemplary report on the how´s and products etcetra ..  

We prepared the Wild Fresh  Trout which travelled in an ice chest in the jeep ( Land Rover ) .. 

The only difference was that I do not care for bacon so we used Italian Pancetta, which was sliced into very fine strips and sautéed in its own fat ..

The fat was drained and of course wiped with paper towelling thoroughly ..  The dish to the contrary was not heavy or greasy ..   The kraut was the star  !!!

The fish were sliced into wide strips and the pancetta strips were placed in the centre of the trout slices and  we rolled the fish up ..  We closed the Fish Rolls  with tiny metal skewers and placed on the exemplary perfect Kraut and a piece of parchment  was placed inside the cover of the  Earthenware casserole type Dutch Oven,  made of  mud & clay ( a cazuela with a cover ) and a few shot glasses of  Riesling from Alsace and it was cooked on a low slow flame ..

Quite outstanding with with the evolutionary touch of Rolling the pancetta inside the fish and placing on the Kraut ..

I did buy The Kraut Kit which is same more or less as the Video posted here ..  I  was able to purchase from a distributor friend from Italy who travels alot to  Alsace and Germany and Switzerland ..

Went extraordinarily well and  4 hands are always  better than two
when preparing  yearly celebration dishes  !!!




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2018 at 08:21
It sounds like your Choucroute turned out very well!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2018 at 09:26
Have to laugh a bit about the seafood version, Ron. I mean, that's a long way from what started life as a peasant dish.  Monkfish, salmon, langostines, for cripes sake.  

Maybe when the second mortgage gets approved I'll take a stab at it. Thumbs Up
But we hae meat and we can eat
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Joking aside, you made a good point, Brook - I could see it being a "catch of the day" thing, which would bring it back down to earth a bit.

But that sauce - I need to try it ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2018 at 10:03
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Have to laugh a bit about the seafood version, Ron. I mean, that's a long way from what started life as a peasant dish.  Monkfish, salmon, langostines, for cripes sake.


Isn't that the trend in everything these days though?   Although you do make a good point. I'm not even sure I could get langostines here, no matter what the cost. But I would definitely give it a shot if I could.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 October 2018 at 22:27
On the other hand, crayfish might work as a substitute.  
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Margi Cintrano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 October 2018 at 16:10
Brook, 

Thank you anyway .. 

Hope you are having a lovely autumn ..  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 October 2018 at 11:26
A friend in Europe saw our posts on Choucroute, and was especially intrigued by the notion of a Choucroute de la Mer. He decided to try his own interpretation, and it seems to me that his efforts resulted in a very nice result.

Quote I was kind of surprised and intrigued that I didn’t know about choucroute de la mer, so I had to make it. I simplified that elaborate dish into something more modest and modern. Being not a sour choucroute adept, all harsh acidity from the fermenting had to go.

A nice beurre blanc is one of my all-time favourites, so I went for that; but, I made it with blond Leffe beer instead of white wine. This sauce was quite strong tasting, so next time I’m going back to the classic beurre blanc which I prefer, made with wine.

For the choucroute, I used a store-bought tinned raw choucroute. Rinsed it in cold water and squeezed all water out. Then blanched it a minute in boiling salted water, rinsed again in cold water and squeezed the water out.

Next, I proceeded with sweating a shallot, added streaky bacon (cut in thin strips), 2 juniper berries, a bay leaf, a clove and a few whole Szechuan pepper corns. The Szechuan is a lemony pepper and I had this idea that it would work great in choucroute, which it did!

I then added half a small glass of white wine (I didn’t use acidic Riesling but an always-fresh-tasting sauvignon blanc); then, I added the same amount of water and let the choucroute cook for some 45 minutes or longer. Check often and add some water if necessary.



When the choucroute is on, you have plenty of time for everything else, like making thebeurre blanc.

Add a finely chopped shallot to half a small glass of white wine or blond beer (I prefer wine!). Let it cook on low fire until you have a tablespoon left. Add the same amount of cream as the amount of wine you used and let it reduce until it starts to bind. Cut some cold butter into small cubes and add a few at a time to the sauce while whisking on a very low fire. Add salt and pepper, as well as a few drops of lemon juice.

Meanwhile, to the seafood! I used frozen salmon, individually packed portions. I let them defrost in the fridge in their package. Get them out the package, rinse in cold water and put on a few layers of paper kitchen towel to dry.

Panfry in a very hot pan with quite a lot of oil. Season while frying. Let the fish rest.


In the same pan, most oil removed, I quickly warmed a small pack of store-bought mixed sea food containing mussels, vongole, squid etc.

And, finally, a choucroute isn’t complete in my opinion without a few humble boiled potatoes.



This was delicious, and all harsh acidity from the choucroute was gone, I even added a little lemon juice to the choucroute!

Simplicity always works!


It looks great, to me - a wonderful celebration of the sea!
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