The Musette: Pork Paradise

This recipe is one of my own invention which borrows elements from Bigos – the Polish national dish – and Choucroute, the Alsatian classic. All three recipes use copious amounts of sauerkraut and pork to provide hearty warming fare for the winter months. It’s another of my one-pot dishes which I typically cook in advance and reheat upon my return from riding or which will happily bubble away in the oven on a low heat while I’m out riding.

It must be said that the quality of the two main ingredients –  pork and sauerkraut – are key to the success of the dish. I use an Alsatian sauerkraut that’s been mellowed in goose fat and Riesling wine. If you can only find the tinned variety can I suggest that you wash it in a sieve to remove the obviously vinegary taste and cook slowly on the top of the stove over a low heat with some chopped onion, apples, a splash of white wine and, if you like, a tablespoon of duck or goose fat. You’ll then be good to go. I cannot stress enough that this is such a simple yet tasty dish.

Heavenly ingredients (image: Sheree)

Heavenly ingredients (Image: Sheree)

Ingredients (serves six hungry cyclists)

  • 2 kg (4 lb) sauerkraut
  • 1 kg (2 lb) pork mix
  • 250ml (1 cup) eau de vie (optional)

Method

1. Boil the sausages in some water to degrease them. Then skin and chop them into bite-sized pieces along with the cooked pork loin and garlic sausage. The piece of ham centre stage is the end of a parma ham and it’s added to the dish purely as a flavour enhancer.

2. Put half the sauerkraut into an ovenproof lidded dish (dutch oven), pile in the pork and cover with the remaining half and add a cup of alcohol or just water.

layers of pork and sauerkraut ready for some gentle cooking (image: Sheree)

Layers of pork and sauerkraut ready for some gentle cooking (Image: Sheree)

3. Cover the dish with a dampened circle of greaseproof (parchment) paper, pop on the lid and put into a pre-heated oven at 160°C /140°C fan/gas mark 3 (320°F/275°F fan) to cook for as long as you like, but not less than four hours.

4. Serve with some slices of rye bread and a green salad or leave to cool overnight, skim off any excess fat and reheat in a low oven once you’ve gotten back from your ride.

Its looks belies its rich, filling taste (image: Sheree)

Its looks belies its rich, filling taste (Image: Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. I find that the dish doesn’t need any more seasoning although you could add a tablespoon of caraway seeds and one of juniper berries to dial up the German vibe. Alternatively, a tablespoon of fennel seeds and a couple of bay leaves will add a nice mellow note.

2. Frankly any mix of pork will be fine but try to have a blend of lean meats with flavourful sausages.

3. If you want to add cubes of bacon, pancetta or belly pork can I suggest that you cook these beforehand to render down the fat and crisp up the meat before adding to the mix.

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