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Pork spareribs, smoked sausage, and cured bacon are slowly cooked in a bed of sauerkraut to tender perfection. Choucroute garnie, a traditional specialty of the Alsace region of France, reflects its German heritage. Steaming platters of sauerkraut are piled high with a variety of hearty sausages, cured meats, and cooked potatoes.There is no exact recipe for this dish, rather just some methods that are commonly followed to create the classic meal.

I stumbled on to this dish while looking for different methods to cook pork spareribs.  I actually found a version of this recipe on the BBQ Pit Boys web site, where the meat was smoked before finishing in the kraut.  As a kid I remembered my mother would often cook pork ribs with sauerkraut until they were falling off the bone.  I decided to give the recipe a try the next time I had company as it does make a rather large amount which is perfect for sharing (kind of an Alsatian version of a crab boil).

I cut the racks in to two rib chunks, and started them on the grill along with the sausage to get a little color.

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Choucroute garnie is French for sauerkraut, so that is where I started.  I mixed the contents of a large jar of kraut, liquid and all with half a head of shredded cabbage, a diced onion, and a sliced granny smith apple.  I cut the sausage and the uncooked bacon into one inch pieces and tossed them in with the kraut, adding some caraway and a bit of salt and pepper.  I filled a roasting pan with about half of the kraut and then laid the ribs, bones down, followed by the rest of the kraut.  I then poured an entire beer in to the pan.  The classic French version calls for a Riesling, but since I am part Czech I went with pivo.

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I covered the pan with foil and placed it in the oven for about an hour.  I removed the pan from the oven and carefully pulled the foil back (steam is hot), and laid some small potatoes and carrots on top of the kraut. Then I replaced the foil and put the pan back in the oven for another hour (the steam from the kraut and the beer perfectly cook the potatoes).  At the end of the second hour, I removed the foil and baked for another thirty minutes to get a little bit of color on the spuds.  In the end the ribs were fall-off the bone tender and everything else was moist and incredibly flavorful.

To serve I placed the kraut in a big pile on a platter and topped it with the ribs and potatoes,  kinda like a crab boil.

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Pork Ribs with Kraut ~ Choucroute Garnie

Cooks note:  There is no exact recipe for this dish.  These are the ingredients and the selection of meats I used.  This recipe can easily be expanded to feed a large group, and the selection of meat can be changed to your personal taste.  This dish can also be prepared entirely on the grill.  Instead of using an oven, place roasting pan over indirect heat and grill with the lid closed.

Ingredients

  • 2   pounds pork spareribs, cut into 2 rib pieces
  • 1   smoked sausage
  • 3  strips cured bacon
  • 1   14 oz. jar sauerkraut
  • ½  head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1   large onion, diced
  • 1   granny smith apple, cored and sliced (2 if they are small)
  • 2   teaspoons caraway seed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1   beer, your choice plus more for drinking
  • 1   pound baby potatoes
  • 4   large carrots, cut into 2″ chunks
  • handful of fresh parsley

Method

Heat oven to 350º F.

Cut ribs into 2 rib pieces and grill along with the sausage to get some color on the meat (do not worry about cooking through).

Cut grilled sausage and uncooked bacon in to 1″ chunks.

In a large bowl mix kraut, cabbage, onion, apple, sausage, bacon, and caraway.  Add half of the kraut mixture to a large roasting pan, followed by the ribs (bones down) and the rest of the kraut.  Pour entire beer over pan.  Cover with foil and place in the oven for 1 hour.

At the end of 1 hour, pull foil back carefully and place potatoes and carrots on top of the kraut.  Cover with foil and return to the oven for another hour. Remove foil and roast for about 30 minutes or until potatoes just begin to brown.

Place kraut in the middle of a large serving platter and top with ribs, potatoes, and carrots.  Sprinkle with some fresh parsley.

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