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Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Dan Becker Photo by: Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Dan Becker

Wine-braised Seafood Choucroute

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.

Sunset JANUARY 2009

  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Total:2 Hours

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Salt
  • 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

Preparation

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Veggie-friendly wines:

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.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 620
  • Calories from fat: 49%
  • Protein: 62g
  • Fat: 34g
  • Saturated fat: 7.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 20g
  • Fiber: 6.8g
  • Sodium: 0.0mg
  • Cholesterol: 233mg
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Wine-braised Seafood Choucroute recipe

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