Choucroute au Champagne
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, meat removed from casings
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed
- 2 medium Spanish onions, chopped
- 8 cups sauerkraut, strained and chopped, see Chef's Note*
- 1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves plus 8 sprigs fresh thyme, for serving
- 12 ounces kielbasa, sliced thin
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 bottle dry white wine or Champagne
- 1 cup diced pork butt
- 2 large smoked ham hocks
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 8 small chicken bratwurst sausage
- Serving suggestion: Toasted bread, mustard, and sour cream
In an 8-quart casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is well browned, about 15 minutes. Add the fennel seed and cook stirring for another minute or so.
Place about 1/3 of the chopped onions, 1/3 of the sauerkraut, 1/4 of the thyme leaves, and 1/3 of the kielbasa over the sausage. Moisten with one-third of the stock and a little wine. Repeat twice more, layering onions, sauerkraut, thyme leaves, and kielbasa, then moistening with stock and wine. Arrange the diced pork butt and smoked ham hocks on top of the last layer of sauerkraut, sprinkle with the remaining thyme and the black pepper.
Bring the casserole to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours, covered, without stirring. Remove the ham hocks. Trim the fat from the hocks then cut the meat from the bones. Return the ham to the casserole. Add the chicken bratwurst and simmer until the bratwurst are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, remove the chicken bratwurst. Stir the casserole and add salt, to taste. Spoon the choucroute onto warm plates, top each serving with a bratwurst, and garnish with a thyme sprig. Pass toasted bread, mustard and sour cream as accompaniments.
* Chef's Note: This recipe is even better made with your own sauerkraut recipe! The choucroute can also be served as an accompaniment to game hen or quail. Either bird should be trussed and can stew on top of the choucroute.
Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.