If you want them to eat it, don’t call it sauerkraut. When it’s prepared the way it’s supposed to be (as in Germany and France, and not just served American-style, cold out of the can on top of a mushy hot dog), it isn’t sour.
Call it Choucroute Garni, its French name because everything French seems sophisticated.
If you sing out, in your best imitation of Julia Child, “Today, mes amis, we are having Choucroute Garni! ”
they’ll float into the room dreaming of picturesque half-timbered houses with window boxes full of red geraniums, and beautiful girls with beautiful names like Delphine. After the first taste, they’ll adopt the rapturous expression of medieval monks at Mont St. Michel. They’ll praise you as a genius, because this dish tastes sublimely French.
(In other words, Choucroute garni tastes like butter.) So call them to dinner with a French accent.
This is quick and simple to prepare, a perfect weeknight supper for times when you’re in the mood for something substantial (after a long dreary, rainy day, for instance).
This is a simple, one-pot meal, immensely satisfying, and takes only 15 minutes to put together, then, under an hour to simmer.
For four people, You’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- kielbasa or garlicky sausage (1 pound of it), cut into chunks the size you like
- 1 pound of sauerkraut (fresh or canned, whichever you prefer)
- 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (and perhaps a splash of white wine or light ale)
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and and each cut into about 3 pieces
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon of caraway seed
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- Black pepper, to taste
- Drain and rinse the sauerkraut.
- In a dutch oven or heavy pot, melt the butter and saute the onions.
- Add the sauerkraut, sprinkle the flour over and stir it all up.
- Add everything else to the pot, arranging the meat and vegetables so they’re nicely covered by kraut and broth. Cover and simmer for 45-55 minutes.
I love German language and culture–German is music to my ears, but not to everyone’s. Most people prefer the sound of the French language; it sounds romantic. To the majority of English-speakers, German, as comedian Dylan Moran so aptly said, “sounds like typewriters eating tinfoil being kicked down the stairs.”
Michelin-starred restaurants and champagne? French.
Beer halls filled with goofy guys in Lederhosen slapping their thighs to polka music? German.
Those are blatant stereotypes, of course, but, still, if you call the family to dinner with, “Today, meine Liebchen, we are eating Sauerkraut mit Würstchen,”
they’ll expect you to also hand out backpacks and then, with a severely disciplined expression, march. With German Shepherds.
If you summon them to eat Sauerkraut, they won’t understand that yes, it’s good for them, but it’s also going to taste good.
The bonus is, it’s healthy. Sauerkraut boosts the immune system. It’s filled with cancer-fighting isothiocynates. Women from Eastern Europe have a significantly lower incidence of breast cancer than their cousins who emigrated to America–when researchers sought the reason, they discovered that those who remain in Eastern Europe eat more sauerkraut. It aids digestions, as one of the few foods that contains the helpful bacteria Lactobacilli plantarum. And it fights influenza.
Be healthy and be sophisticated. Eat more sauerkraut, but call it Choucroute Garni.