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1940s Archive

An Epicurean Tour of the French Provinces

Alsace

continued (page 3 of 7)

Choucroute Garnie

Line the bottom of a good-sized casserole with 8 thick slices fat bacon. Place on top 2 quarts sauerkraut. On top of the sauerkraut place 6 smoked pork loin cutlets, 3 onions, each stuck with a clove, and 8 to 10 smoked or fresh sausages or any good spiced sausages. Place another 8 thick slices fat bacon over all and add to the casserole 2 to 3 cups stock and 1 bottle dry white wine. Cover tightly and simmer for 2 hours.

About 15 minutes before the cooking period is finished, add 8 frankfurters and complete the cooking without letting the liquid boil. Arrange the sauerkraut in the center of a large hot platter, surround with the bacon, the smoked cutlets, sausages, and frankfurters, and garnish with thin slices of boiled or baked ham. Serve with potatoes boiled in their jackets.

If you are interested in a more Homeric version, here is one that requires three days to reach its peak of succulent splendor!

Choucroute Garnie (de Trois Jours)

The first day melt down a good quantity of goose fat. Then cover the bottom of a large earthen casserole with a layer of plat-de-côte de boeuf (short ribs). Cover this with bouillon and Chablis and add salt and pepper. Then add alternate thin layers of goose fat and wide layers of sauerkraut, mixing in bacon strips and cutlets of smoked pork, until the receptacle is filed to the brim. Cook this slowly for 5 hours and allow it to cool. The next day put the marmite back on the stove, add 1/2 bottle champagne, and cook slowly for 3 or 4 hours. Finally, on the third and great day, put the dish back on a very slow fire, add 1/2 bottle champagne, and simmer for 4 final hours. About 2 1/2 hours before serving, add a boned Join of pork. Half an hour later, add a large Lorraine sausage and many smaller sausages from Strasbourg and Frankfort. Then, 1 hour before presenting your masterpiece, add a few truffles! That's all. It can easily be adapted to American ingredients.

Because the goose and the pig form the keystone of Alsatian cookery, one is inclined to accept choucroute garnie and pâté de foie gras as the two admitted masterpieces and to overlook many subtle, unpublicized specialties of the countryside. The whole world knows the buff-colored crockery terrine which encases the lush, aromatic goose liver from Alsace. Its superlative reputation is well deserved. Its only rival, the foie gras of Périgord, has a closer kinship to truffles, perhaps, but only a rash expert would rate one above the other. The Alsatians are consummate pastrymakers, however, and when they combine this skill with their sublime goose liver, the result is an exquisite concoction of tender crust, foie gras, and truffles quite beyond my range of adjectives.

Alsace is a land of fragrant pâtés, made not only from the celestial foie gras but also from pork, beef, poultry, venison, wild boar, hare, and game birds. They also make pâtés from fresh-water fish and from fruit. Then there is a particularly festive one made from the meat and feathered trimmings of the peacock. High spicing is required in these flavorful meats, and the Alsatian charcutier calls upon pepper, clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and caraway seed, in addition to the gamut of herbs, to perfume them.

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