Time: About 2 hours. Comforting Alsatian choucroute—a tangle of seasoned sauerkraut, usually served with pork—is mighty hard on wine. But for centuries, Alsatians have been happily pairing choucroute with their own wines: dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer. (For our Western picks, see below.) Serve the choucroute with little red potatoes.
3 ounces bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, sliced thinly lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 qts. fresh sauerkraut (3 lbs.)
2 cups dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer, divided
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon juniper berries
About 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup fresh Meyer or regular lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned firm white-fleshed fish fillet, such as halibut or black cod
6 fresh seafood sausages* (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
6 ounces hot-smoked salmon, skinned and broken into large chunks
Chopped fresh chives
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large, wide ovenproof pot, brown bacon over medium-high heat, 4 to 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft, 5 minutes.
Rinse sauerkraut well in a colander; squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Stir sauerkraut into onion mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups wine, the broth, bay leaves, juniper berries, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and bake until sauerkraut is barely tender to the bite, about 1 hour.
In a small saucepan, boil shallots in remaining 1/2 cup wine until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat; whisk in lemon juice and mustard, then 6 tbsp. olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper and pour into a small pitcher.
Rinse fish, pat dry, and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook fish, skinned side up, until browned on the bottom, about 6 minutes.
Nestle sausages into sauerkraut mixture and top with fish, browned side up. Cover and bake until sausages and fish are opaque but still moist-looking in center (cut to test), about 10 minutes.
Transfer fish and sausages to a warm plate. With a slotted spoon, mound sauerkraut on a warm platter; discard braising liquid. Tuck chunks of smoked salmon into sauerkraut and arrange fish and sausages around and on top. Sprinkle with chives and serve with vinaigrette.
*Find at gourmet markets and seafood shops (you might have to order ahead). Or substitute 1 1/2 lbs. peeled deveined raw shrimp (16 to 20 per lb.; tails left on); in step 5, stir shrimp into sauerkraut before adding fish.
SAUVIGNON BLANC: Rochioli Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Russian River Valley; $26). Rich and complex; lively herbs; exotic mix of Asian pear, grapefruit, lemongrass. Signaterra (by Benziger Family) Shone Farm Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Russian River Valley; $26). Lovely new-mown grass and herb aromas followed by a splash of grapefruit.
SPARKLING WINE: Gruet Blanc de Blancs 2004 (New Mexico; $25). A delightful sparkler with fresh grapefruit, melons, and pears over faint tropical notes. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2005 (North Coast; $36). Crisp apple and creamy lemon blend with stone fruit and a yummy toasted character.
DRY RIESLING: Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling 2006 (Central Coast; $18). Fuzzy apricots and peaches balanced by minerals and a touch of classic Riesling diesel-fuel quality (a good thing). Trefethen Family Dry Riesling 2007 (Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley; $22). Crisp and bright, with lemon zest and beautiful stone fruit.
DRY GEWÜRZTRAMINER: Londer Dry Gewürztraminer 2007 (Anderson Valley; $26). Perfumed with honeysuckle and juicy with stone fruit and citrus. Stony Hill Gewürztraminer 2006 (Napa Valley; $21). True to its name—full of wet stones, plus flowers and spice and satisfyingly bitter grapefruit.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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