Choucroute Formidable

Choucroute Formidable

Serves 6 to 8

1-1/2 pounds unsmoked fresh bratwurst links (6 to 8 links)

1 pound smoked kielbasa

5-6 ounces very thickly sliced bacon (about 1/3-inch, this will be about 3 slices), or ham slices

3 pounds packaged refrigerated sauerkraut

12 ounces finely-shredded fresh cabbage (a bag of coleslaw mix is fine, with or without carrots)

4 large red-skinned potatoes, about a pound

1 large onion, sliced

1 cup vegetable or chicken stock

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

Cut the potatoes into 8 wedges each.  Put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.  Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are just barely tender.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven.  Cut the bacon slices crosswise in thirds.  Prick the bratwursts with a fork in a few places on each link.  Cut the kielbasa into 6 or 8 pieces.  When the oil is hot, add the bacon and cook for a couple of minutes per side, until lightly browned.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and add the kielbasa.  Cook, turning occasionally, to brown them a little.  Remove the kielbasa and add the bratwurst links.  Brown well on all sides and remove the links.  Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat and cook the sliced onion with a little salt and pepper.  Make sure to scrape up the bottom of the Dutch oven and incorporate the browned bits into the onions.  Cook until the onions are lightly browned and remove them from the pot.

While the meats are browning, drain the sauerkraut (but don’t rinse it) and put it in a large bowl.  Stir in the shredded fresh  cabbage.  When the onion is browned, stir it in, too.  If there is still some browned stuff clinging to the bottom of the Dutch oven, then pour in the vegetable or chicken stock and heat up the pot, scraping the bottom.

Put the sauerkraut mixture into the bottom of the Dutch oven (right into the stock if you added it already).  Put the potatoes on top in one layer, then the bacon slices and the various sausages.  Pour the stock over if you haven’t already.  Cover the pot and bring it all to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  You’ll know it’s all cooked when you prick one of the bratwursts with a knife and the juices are yellow or clear.  Replace the lid, turn off the heat, and let the whole thing sit for 20 minutes or more.

Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot or warm, giving everyone some of each of the meats, some potatoes, and lots of sauerkraut.