In wintertime, when the temperature drops and the holiday lights twinkle, we often look to food to help us warm up and celebrate the season. I love to entertain during the holidays, but the act of entertaining can be pretty stressful in itself. December is busy enough without throwing a major dinner party or get together into the picture. I’m always looking for easy dinner ideas that will both impress my guests and allow me time to actually spend with the people I’ve invited over. This fits the bill.
I’d been eyeing this recipe for a while in Pam Anderson’s Perfect One Dish Dinners. I have fond memories of my mother making a huge pot of Choucroute Garnie (A fancy French term for dressed up sauerkraut) when I was little, but I’d never made one myself. I remember it bubbling away on the stove for hours as our house filled with the most wonderful, warm, snuggly aroma. I ran across this version again while my mother was visiting, and decided to give it a whirl.
Choucroute Garnie is, traditionally, sauerkraut cooked with a variety of meats, apples, onion and wine. It cooks low and slow and the flavors combine to make, in my opinion, the ultimate winter dish. I know I tend to use the word “cozy” a lot when describing wintry food, but that’s exactly what this is. It warms the soul.
You’ll start by sauteing up some crisp apples and onion with some diced up prosciutto in a roasting pan. I turned up two burners on my stove and placed the roasting pan over both.
Once they’ve browned up a bit, you’ll add some sauerkraut, whole cloves and a few bay leaves.
Next comes the meat. There is a lot of meat involved, I’m not going to lie. But, this is what makes it a perfect dish for entertaining! So many choices! The recipe calls for bratwurst (Boar’s Head makes delicious bratwurst!), kielbasa and smoked pork chops. If you can’t find smoked pork chops, you could easily substitute a ham steak, cut into large pieces. All in all, you add about four pounds of meat! Along with the meat, you’ll add some chicken broth and dry, white wine.
Now, this is where the “it’s great for entertaining” bit comes in. At this point, you’ll cover the pan and put it into the oven for about an hour and a half. Other than uncovering the pan and adding some potatoes after 45 minutes, it’s totally hands off.
Red new potatoes work perfectly. They cook up really well and don’t fall apart into a mushy mess after cooking in the sauerkraut mixture.
After 45 minutes more, you’ll have a roasting pan full of cozy, crazy-good smelling yumminess!!!
That night, I wasn’t feeding a large group. I served this to my family of four and my Mom, and had enough left over to freeze for a rainy day. According to Ms. Anderson, you can remove the leftover potatoes from the choucroute before freezing and just add new potatoes to it as you reheat the dish another day. I haven’t tried it out of the freezer, yet, but it’s nice to know it’s there for another chilly night.
Everyone enjoyed it that evening. There was enough variety for all of us (even the little ones) to sample, and we left the table with cozy, warm tummies, full of new, tasty memories.
Adapted from Pam Anderson
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 crisp apples, cored and chopped (I used Royal Gala)
- 4 thin slices of prosciutto, diced
- 10 whole cloves
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 lbs. of refrigerated sauerkraut, drained
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 lb. bratwurst, cut on a diagonal, into 8 pieces
- 4 smoked pork chops, about 2 lbs., halved (or a large ham steak, cut into 4 large pieces)
- 1 lb. kielbasa, cut into 8 pieces
- 8 red new potatoes, halved
- Move oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350*.
- Heat oil in a large roasting pan set over two burners of the stove on medium-high heat. Add the onions, apples, and prosciutto. Cook until tender and golden brown, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the cloves, bay leaves, and sauerkraut. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes to blend the flavors. Add the wine, chicken broth and meats. Bring to a boil. Cover the roasting pan with foil and move the pan to the oven.
- Bake, to blend flavors, about 45 minutes.
- Remove foil from the pan and add the potatoes to the dish, making sure to immerse the potatoes in the liquid as much as possible. Return the pan to the oven and bake, until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves and serve. (Leftovers can be frozen. Remove the potatoes before freezing and just add new potatoes when reheating.)
- Serves 8-10