The winter has finally managed to catch up with us. It's not cold, it's freezing! Beautifully sunny though, but dreadfully cold. I literally thought I was going to freeze when I was walking home on Monday evening! We're kind of worried about some of the poor, confused plants that thought it was spring and started to blossom. Daffodils and daisies. Hydrangeas even! Who knows if they'll survive the sudden change in weather.
We're surviving though and that's partly due to a diet of French winter dishes that begin with lots of goose fat, carry on with lots of wine and end with lots of laughter. As you might remember, I recently made a good cassoulet. It was rich, meaty and as warming as a roaring fire in a country kitchen. Choucroute was bound to be next on the menu. Not only an easy meal, but proper, stick-to-the-ribs winter food.
Here's the recipe, but be warned, this is not for the calorie-shy reader...
2 tsps goose fat
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
125g bacon, cubed
tsp juniper berries
a bay leaf or two
a large glass of dry white wine
6 black peppercorns
1 large smoked sausage, cut in four pieces
4 hot dogs
4 slices cured pork loin
boiled potatoes and mustard, to serve
Heat the goose fat in a large pan. Add the onions and garlic and gently cook for about 5 minutes. Add in the bacon and give it all an extra minute. Follow with the sauerkraut, juniper berries, bay leaf, sugar, wine, salt and pepper. Cook the sauerkraut over a gentle heat for about 2 hours. Add in the sausage and give it 15 more minutes. Finally add in the hot dogs and the pork loin. Cook for a further 10 minutes and serve with the boiled potatoes, the mustard and a dry, crisp riesling.