Choucroute garnie is a classic of Alsatian cuisine and is particularly suited to long winter nights. The long-simmered dish featuring endless pork products becomes less appealing, however, when the sun begins showing its face again. But produce availability can take a little while to catch up, and the Parisian markets still abound with wintry produce like cabbage and apples.
This lighter, quicker version of choucroute garnie is perfect for the transition from winter to spring. It makes good use of the available fresh produce and doesn’t rely so heavily on piles of meat, but delivers a satisfying dinner nonetheless, hearty enough to take the edge off the chilly nights. Complete the meal with crusty bread or steamed new potatoes.
Braised Red Cabbage with Apples and Sausage
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium apples, cored and sliced
½ large head red cabbage (about 1,250 grams or 2¾ pounds), thinly sliced
½ cup (120 ml) apple cider or juice
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
½ cup (120 ml) chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3 whole cloves, 5 whole black peppercorns and 3 whole juniper berries (optional)
12 ounces (350 grams) saucisse de Morteau (kielbasa would be a fine substitute)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat the butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and apples, and season with a big pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until softened.
2. Add the cabbage, apple cider, white wine, chicken broth, bay leaf and whole spices, if using. Stir to combine, then cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is fully wilted, about 30 minutes. If it looks like there is a lot of liquid, leave the lid off to reduce it a bit. It should be juicy, not soupy.
3. Meanwhile, cut the sausage into bite-size pieces (half-moons are nice). When the cabbage is ready, stir in the sausage pieces. Continue simmering until everything is heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve hot, in bowls to catch the juices.
Camille Malmquist is an American pastry chef living and working in Paris. In her spare time, she cooks and bakes at home (believe it or not), as well as tackles the difficult task of trying out as many restaurants and bakeries as possible, then she blogs about her food and travel adventures at Croque-Camille.
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