Alsace: Sauerkraut Reigns Supreme
If I were to say to you "foie gras and sauerkraut," what place would come to mind? That’s right! Alsace. Let’s visit Strasbourg to unearth some of its culinary gems. First of all, let’s take a moment to talk about sauerkraut. You might as well learn right away that sauerkraut is not a traditional Alsatian dish, but rather THE traditional dish of all Alsatians who, as tradition would have it, prepared their own sauerkraut up until the beginning of the 20th century. It is a family dish served often on Sundays that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. It can be found in all good Alsatian brasseries. The same can be said for foie gras: it is an Alsatian brain child. Yes, the recipe was developed here! It was concocted by the maréchal de Contades’s cook and the recipe for soft, melt-in-your-mouth foie gras took off like a powder trail all the way to the doors of Versailles…
As aperitifs go, a glass of beer and Alsatian pretzels are just the thing to whet the appetite before tasting several regional specialties. For example, baeckeoffe (potatoes and pork), tarte flambée, and spaetzle (a type of noodles), which can go with chicken or game. Many tarts can also be found on an Alsatian table: flammekueche or tarte flambée, with a bread dough base, cream, onions and lardons. And let’s not forget the famous spice bread, which is very popular in the region. And last but not least, white wine, with wonders of taste so distinctive and inimitable such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.
The most renowned specialties are sauerkraut, hotpot of pork and cabbage, bäckeoffe, flamenkuche, and Munster cheese tart.
One of the local dessert specialties is ginger spice bread.
Cheeses to enjoy here include Munster and Bargkass.
Wines and Spirits:
The main Appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOC) wines in Alsace are:
- A.O.C. Vin d'Alsace or Alsace (a mix of varietals)
- A.O.C. Alsace Grand Cru (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat d'Alsace)
- A.O.C. Crémant d'Alsace (sparkling wines made with Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling or Chardonnay produced using a traditional method like the one used in the Champagne region)
For white wines: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat d'Alsace, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Klevener d'Heiligenstein, Edelzwicker, Crémant d'Alsace
For red wines: Pinot Noir
Sauerkraut with Meat (serves 8)
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 hours
- 50 ounces (1.5 kg) raw sauerkraut
- 3 firm potatoes
- ¼ cup (50 g) lard (or oil)
- 1 cup (20 cL) chicken stock
- 1 cup (20 cL) Alsatian white wine
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- sea salt, fresh black pepper
- 8 Strasbourg pork sausages
- 1 pound (400 g) lean smoked slab bacon
- 1 ¾ pounds (800 g) smoked pork tenderloin
- 3 Alsatian liver sausages
- Thoroughly wash the sauerkraut and carefully rinse it. Repeat this step several times, if necessary. Dry the sauerkraut with a towel.
- Melt the lard. Add the sauerkraut. Moisten with the chicken stock and white wine. Flavor with the juniper berries, cloves, cumin, thyme and bay leaves. Salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook for 1 ½ hours over low heat. Add the bacon and the pork tenderloin. Continue cooking over low heat for 1 hour. Add the sausages as well as the peeled potatoes. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Arrange the sauerkraut on a preheated serving dish.
- Cut the bacon into large pieces and the pork tenderloin. Garnish the sauerkraut with the meat, sausages, and potatoes. Serve.