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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Defrosting Frozen Berries

frozen-triple-berry-wymans-230

Don’t turn your nose up at frozen berries. They can be sweeter than imported, out-of-season berries. Photo courtesy Wyman’s.

 

Some people turn up their noses at the thought of frozen berries. But they’re convenient year-round and in the off season, they’re economical and can be sweeter, too.

Picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen within hours of harvest, they are just as nutritious as fresh berries.

Keep bags of fresh frozen berries in the freezer and pour out the amount you need. If you’re using the berries in baking or in a smoothie, there’s no need to defrost them. That especially goes for turning them into soft serve*.

For other uses—garnishing, salads, sundaes, yogurt—you’ll want to defrost the berries first. You can make them taste the best with proper defrosting.

Note that the defrosted berries will be more delicate than fresh berries. Handle them gently to keep their shape. Use thawed berries within two days.

 

REFRIGERATOR DEFROSTING

If you’re not in a hurry, defrost the berries in the fridge. Slow defrosting generally maintains a better flavor and texture for any food item.

Place the berries in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. If you plan to eat them whole or use as a garnish, thaw them for four to six hours so they are still partially frozen and firm. Otherwise, you can let then thaw overnight.

 
COUNTERTOP DEFROSTING

Place the berries in a bowl and cover with cold water. Check in five minutes. If the berries are still frozen, drain and add fresh cold water.

Do not thaw berries in hot or warm water. The heat will cause the berries to release their juices and shrivel. It also provides an environment where harmful bacteria can grow.

 

DEFROSTING BERRIES WITH A MICROWAVE

The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission recommends microwave defrosting. Microwaves vary as to cooking times and berries differ in densities, so do a few small test batches to get the perfectly defrosted berry.

  • Use the defrost setting on your microwave to thaw berries.
  • Defrost in small batches, no more than a cup at a time.
  • Place berries atop a paper towel in a single layer, on a microwavable plate. Leave a good amount of space between the berries.
  • Set the time to 60 seconds for blackberries and large strawberries, 30 seconds for raspberries and small strawberries and 15 seconds for blueberries.
  • The microwaved berries should look lightly frosted—don’t overnuke or they’ll lose their shape.
  •  

    Frozen raspberries & blue berries

    Frozen berries. Photo courtesy Thinng.com.

  • Taste a berry. If it’s too frozen, microwave another 10 seconds. Alternatively, you can leave the berries on the counter to finish defrosting at room temperature.
  •  

    HOW TO FREEZE FRESH BERRIES

    When berries are in season, look for the best prices and freeze your own to enjoy when the fruit is out of season.

  • SPREAD the berries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Freeze.
  • MOVE the frozen berries to a freezer bag or other airtight container.
  • DEFROST berries in a bowl, either in the fridge overnight or at room temperature.
  •  
    *You can use a food processor, but we get far better results from the Yonanas machine. It’s a great way to turn fruit into frozen dessert as you control the amount and type of sweetener.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Dessert Bar

    After a big holiday feast, instead of serving dessert at the table, consider setting up a dessert bar. Guests can digest the main meal a bit, and then help themselves at their own pace. They can also cut slivers of more than one dessert.

    In addition to pies, cake, cobbler, cookies, fruit and other bounty, guests can help themselves to coffee and tea.

    Set out the plates, forks, spoons, napkins, and don’t forget the garnishes. Consider:

  • Crème fraîche
  • Crème anglaise (custard sauce)
  • Hard sauce*
  • Ice cream
  • Mascarpone
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    If you want to over-indulge, add bowls of shaved chocolate and toffee bits, and flavored whipped cream (like bourbon whipped cream or chocolate whipped cream) in addition to the classic.

       

    pecan-pie-beauty-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Set the apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie and other desserts on a sideboard or table and let guests help themselves. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    *Hard sauce is a rich dessert sauce made with butter and sugar plus brandy, rum, sherry, whiskey or vanilla.

     

    open-mint-chip-230

    Talenti’s four delicious seasonal flavors. Get them all: They’re heavenly! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    TALENTI LIMITED EDITION SEASONAL ICE CREAM

    Look for limited edition seasonal ice cream flavors to add to your dessert bar. One of our favorite brands, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, has four exceptionally delicious flavors:

  • Caramel Apple Pie is Talenti’s signature cinnamon gelato (the milk is infused with whole cinnamon sticks!), blended with pieces of apples, sweet flaky pie crust and a caramel swirl. It’s a great fusion of ice cream and pie.
  • Old World Eggnog Gelato is made like eggnog, with fresh egg yolks, pure vanilla extract and nutmeg. But it’s family-friendly: no alcohol. A terrific treat for eggnog lovers!
  • Peppermint Bark Gelato adds crunchy morsels of semisweet Callebaut Belgian chocolate to refreshing peppermint ice cream. We’re hooked on it.
  • Pumpkin Pie Gelato blends brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin with real pie crust pieces. It’s even better than a slice of pie!
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ICE CREAM & GELATO

    In brief, gelato is made with more milk than cream, for a lower butterfat content. While many of us have been led to believe that higher butterfat “superpremium ice cream” is better, the butterfat coats the tongue and dulls the flavors in the process.

     
    Gelato is also more dense, with less air whipped into it (overrun). The combination of lower fat and higher density engender greater intensity of flavor. Here’s more on the difference between ice cream and gelato.

    Note that in the U.S. there is no government standard to differentiate ice cream and gelato. We’ve found more than one very high butterfat “gelato.”

    Why? It’s marketing: “Gelato” sounds newer, more sophisticated and special.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Unsweetened Whipped Cream

    whipped-cream-230-IST-b

    Grab your hand mixer and start whipping! Photo by Robert Matic | IST.

     

    If you’re putting whipped cream on a very sweet dessert, such as pecan pie or double chocolate cake, you can halve the sugar in the whipped cream or eliminate it entirely.

    An unsweetened or just slightly sweet whipped cream provides a better counterpoint to the sweetness of the dessert. Otherwise, the sweet-on-sweet can be cloying.

    Another tip: Make your own whipped cream. Once you see how easy it is and how much better it tastes, you’ll never go back to store-bought aerosol cans.

    Just look at the ingredients comparison:

  • Reddi-Whip contains cream, nonfat milk, corn syrup, sugar, natural and artificial flavors, carrageenan (a thickening agent), mono- and diglycerides (emulsifiers, to preserve the texture of the product) and nitrous oxide as a propellant.
  • Homemade whipped cream contains cream, sugar and natural flavors (vanilla, almond extract) and no other additives. (If you use a cream whipper, then you are using nitrous oxide as a propellant.)
  •  
    The amount of heavy cream you use—one half or one pint—yields up to five times as much whipped cream.

     
    Here’s how to whip the cream in a bowl with beaters; however, if you you want an even easier way to make whipped cream that you can prepare days in advance, consider a cream whipper, also called a whipped cream maker or canister.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC WHIPPED CREAM

    You can also make flavored whipped cream, from bourbon to salted caramel; chocolate whipped cream (recipe below); and savory whipped cream for meat and fish.

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the bowl, beaters and cream thoroughly before beginning. Using an electric mixer whip the cream, vanilla, and sugar in the chilled bowl until soft peaks form (3-5 minutes). Makes about 2 cups.

     

    CREAM WHIPPERS

    We’ve used a cream whipper for many years. They last forever—we still have our mother’s unit from the 1960s.

    You simply pour the cream into the canister, add the sugar and flavoring, and then aerate instantly with a nitrous oxide charger instead of whipping for 5 minutes with the beaters. All of the whipped cream is good to the last drop; it stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

    In addition to whipping cream, you can use a cream whipper for espumas (foams), gravies, sauces and soups. In fact, there’s a thermal version that keeps the contents cold for up to eight hours with no refrigeration needed, or hot for three hours—on the kitchen counter or the buffet for people to help themselves.

    The differences between a cream whipper and beater whipped cream: The cream will be more highly aerated (airier, not thick) and will emerge from the nozzle of the whipper in a thin ribbon, as opposed to a rounded mound as large as you like, from a spoon.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    You can use dark, milk or white chocolate.

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  •  

    red-pin-cream-whipper-230

    A pint whipper from iSi. Don’t buy a half pint whipper to save money. It’s a lifetime purchase, and you’re likely to want a larger batch at some point. (Note that a half liter equals a pint).

     
    Preparation

    1. MEASURE the chocolate into a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. HEAT the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.

    3. POUR the cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted. Let cool.

    4. ADD the remaining cup of heavy cream and beat with electric beaters (or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) on medium speed, until thick and fluffy.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Hors d’Oeuvre For Entertaining Or Snacking

    We found these photos on the Facebook page of Jarlsberg USA, and liked the idea for holiday entertaining as well as family snacking.

    Make four or five different versions to serve with cocktails, or one or two types for a TV snack. For a children’s activity, you can set out ingredients and let kids assemble their own snacks.

    The key to visual appeal is to offset the pale color of most cheeses with other, bright colored ingredients. Turkey and Swiss cheese may be a popular combination, for instance, but to the eye it’s beige and beige. Go for bright and appealing.

    Then, all you need are four-inch skewers, plain or twisted (for a fancier touch). Or, check out our festive party picks for stars, evergreen trees metallic fringe and colored cellophane tips.

    Use the list below to pick two or three ingredients to pair with the cheese. The skewers are plenty tasty as is, but you can serve them with a dish of honey mustard for dipping. You can buy honey mustard, or make your own by adding honey, sugar or noncaloric sweetener to mustard, in a proportion to your liking.
     
    COLORFUL CHEESES

    In addition to your favorite cheeses, consider options beyond beige. Check out these special cheeses with deep colors:

  • Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar in Elderberry (red marbled) or Porter (brown marbled) flavors (photo).
  •    

    skewers-jarlsbergUSA-fb-view2-230rev

    Two popular pairings with cheese: dried apricots and basil-tomato. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

  • Mimolette, a French cow’s milk cheese the color of a harvest moon, in the shape of a ball (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto looks like green cheese from the moon (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto Rosso, a Gouda-style cheese from Holland, with a harvest moon color that comes from the addition of tomatoes (photo).
  •  
    Then, it’s time to pick your add-ons:

     

    skewers-jarlsbergUSAFB-230rev

    Serrano ham and sundried tomatoes are bright additions to appetizer skewers. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

    PROTEINS

  • Ham cubes
  • Serrano ham slices
  • Pepperoni
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  •  
    VEGETABLES

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Blue or purple potatoes (cooked and sliced or cubed)
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Dilly beans
  • Gherkins/pickle slices
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pimento-stuffed olives
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper strips
  • Snow peas
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • FRUIT

  • Clementine/tangerine segments
  • Dried apricots
  • Kiwi
  • Mango cubes
  • Melon cubes
  • Pineapple cubes
  • Red or purple grapes
  •  
    Send us photos of your favorite creations!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cider Cocktails

    Cider cocktails: We don’t get enough of them. It’s our own fault, since we habitually order one of our three favorite cocktails instead of going for the seasonal specialty.

    Eating seasonally means drinking seasonally, too. So from now through the end of holiday season, we’re going to enjoy cocktails with fall and winter ingredients, returning on January 1st, National Bloody Mary Day, to our usual drink of choice.

    Thanks to ONEHOPE Wine for these two sparkling cocktails, made with regular cider and their sparkling wine (you can use any sparkler).
     
    RECIPE: PEAR & SPARKLING CIDER COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 8 Cocktails

  • Rim: 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cinnamon, combinedd
  • 2 cups chilled pear nectar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups sparkling wine
  • 4 ounces Bourbon
  • Garnish: 1 pear, unpeeled and cored cut into thin slices
    lengthwise
  •    

    Pear and Sparkling Cider-svedka-230

    Pear nectar, apple cider and sparkling wine unite in a seasonal sparkler. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    Preparation

    1. RIM flutes with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

    2. COMBINE pear nectar, apple cider, sparkling wine and Bourbon in a pitcher. Serve immediately, garnished with sliced pear.

     

    Apple Cider Mimosa-svedka-230

    We’re not sure why it’s called a Mimosa (Champagne and orange juice). Think of it as
    a Mimosa for Scotch lovers. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER MIMOSA

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 ounce Scotch
  • 2 ounces fresh apple cider
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
  • Garnish: apple slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE brown sugar, Scotch and apple cider in a flute.

    2. TOP with sparkling wine and garnish with fresh apple slices.
     

    ABOUT ONEHOPE

    ONEHOPE is a social enterprise that integrates causes into products and services to make a social impact. ONEHOPE Wine, produced in California in partnership with Rob Mondavi, Jr., donates half of its profits to partner causes. Learn more at OneHopeWine.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY #2: Message Bread

    People get the government they deserve, said Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), a French count, lawyer, diplomat, writer and philosopher. (The quote is often misattributed to better-known commentators such as Abraham Lincoln and Alexis de Tocqueville.)

    De Maistre’s actual statement was “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite”—every nation gets [has] the government it deserves.” It was published in 1811 in a book of his letters. The statement is variously translated as “Every country has the government it deserves” and “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”

    It’s Election Day. Exercise your right to vote. Even when the choices don’t appeal to you, one candidate has got to be more appealing than another. Leave the choice to others, and you get the government you deserve, if not necessarily the one you want.

    Even if you’re ambivalent about the candidates, there may be issues that will affect you for a long time. So do a bit of reading up and head to the polls.

     

    vote-bread-artisanbreadinfive-230sq

    Deliver your message in homemade bread. Photo courtesy ArtisanBreadInFive.com.

     

    Then, you deserve a treat. Is there anything better than fresh-baked bread?

    You can bake bread with a message, and use it as a signature dish for any special occasion: BOO for Halloween, FEAST for Thanksgiving, NOEL for Christmas, LOVE for anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, CONGRATS for promotions or great report cards, and so forth.

    Present the bread on a platter with a side of sweet and/or savory spreads, cheeses, pâté, other favorites, or simply butter and jam.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serrated Peeler

    Every kitchen has a standard vegetable peeler to slice the skin from carrots, cucumbers, potatoes and other veggies.

    But there’s also a serrated peeler, which works better on softer produce like mangoes, nectarines, peaches, plums and that toughest of peeling challenges, tomatoes.

    Most home cooks who have both use the word “love,” as in, “I love the serrated peeler!”

    Of course, you can use a serrated peeler where you’d use a conventional peeler, on anything from asparagus to zucchini. But we use both, so we don’t dull the serrated blade on potatoes when we want to keep it sharp for those pesky tomatoes.

    The standard technique to peel thin-skinned produce is to blanch the item in boiling water, then chill it in ice water, then remove the skin with a sharp knife or fingers. A serrated peeler is the better way.

     

    serrated-peeler-hands-crisp-230

    Peeling tomatoes, bell peppers and mangoes is easy with a serrated peeler. Photo courtesy Crisp.

     

    And instead of charring bell peppers over a flame to remove the skin, just use a serrated peeler.

    How can you resist?

    • The angled-head serrated peeler from Crisp is $8.99 at CrispCooking.com. It also has an “eyer” at the top.
    • The highly regarded Messermeister serrated swivel peeler is $7.95 at Amazon.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding Toppers, Pudding Party

    creme-caramel-brittle-kaminsky-230

    Butterscotch pudding with brittle. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Here’s a fun dessert idea, whether for a weekday family dinner or a pudding bar at your next party.

    You can make pudding or buy it. Making it is better and lots more fun. We’ve been spending more and more time with Puddin’: Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Pudding Cakes, Pies, and Pops.

    The book, by the owner of a pudding store in New York City, has foolproof pudding recipes, from standards to modern twists. Get your copy here.

    PICK A PUDDING

    • Banana pudding
    • Butterscotch pudding
    • Chocolate pudding
    • Coffee pudding
    • Lemon pudding
    • Pistachio pudding
    • Tapioca pudding
    • Rice pudding
    • Vanilla pudding
    • Modern puddings: Dulce de Leche, Key Lime, Malted Milk, Nutella, Peanut Butter and many others
    • Seasonal favorites like Eggnog, Maple and Pumpkin Pie puddings
    PICK A TOPPING

    Cookie & Cake Toppings

    • Brownie crumbs
    • Cake cubes (from any type of cake)
    • Graham cracker crumbs
    • Vanilla wafer crumbs
    • Other cookie crumbs

     
    Sauce Toppings

    • Caramel sauce
    • Dulce de leche
    • Fudge sauce
    • Fruit sauce: berry, cherry, peach melba
    • Marshmallow creme
    • Whipped cream

     

    Candies & Nuts

    • Baking chips: chocolate, butterscotch, mint, peanut butter, vanilla
    • Candied nuts (any type, including honey roasted nuts)
    • Candied orange peel
    • Chopped brittle or toffee
    • Gummies
    • Mini candies (malt balls, M&Ms, marshmallows)
    • Mini pretzels, chopped chocolate covered pretzels
    • Reese’s Pieces
    • Sprinkles

     
    Wild Card

    • Candied bacon
    • Coconut
    • Dried berries: cherries, cranberries
     

    puddin-230

    Puddin-licious: an entire book of pudding recipes. Photo courtesy Spiegel & Grau.

     

    FOR A PARTY PUDDING BAR

    1. MAKE the pudding in large bowls. Consider adding dairy free (vegan) and sugar free options.

    2. KEEP each bowl on a bed of crushed ice.

    3. PLACE the toppings in smaller bowls, each with its own serving spoon. Refilling topping bowls as needed.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Breads & Spreads

    queso-fresco-chipotle-baby-bell-peppers-230r-s

    Make crunchy, Mexican-style snacks with baby
    bell peppers. Photo courtesy The Laughing
    Cow.

     

    The Laughing Cow makes eight flavors of spreadable cheese, and sent us suggestions for pairing the different spreads with complementary breads and crackers.

    These fun snacks can be served as hors d’oeuvre with beer, cocktails or wine; as a casual first course; or as an anytime snack. The ideas below can be ported to pairing any cheese, spread or dip. In addition to bread, the cheese spreads are paired with crackers and veggies.

    In fact, the next time you’re planning a cheese course or a cheese platter, think of choosing more interesting breads and crackers, such as:

    • Arepas (a thicker version of a tortilla)
    • Banana bread and date nut bread (especially delicious with double-creme and triple-creme cheeses like Brie)
    • Corn bread (great with chile-based cheeses like Pepper Jack)
    • Irish soda bread (try with everything from fresh, soft cheeses to aged Cheddar and Gouda)
    • Onion bread (especially for adding a kick to mild cheeses)
    • Pretzel bread (a universal favorite)
    • Pumpernickel or dark rye bread (delicious with firm, hearty cheeses)
    • Raisin semolina bread (a partner for everything from mild to hearty cheeses)

     
    Find many other types of bread in our yummy Bread Glossary.

     

    MILD PAIRINGS

    Spread: Creamy Original Swiss
    Pairing: Banana Bread With Walnuts

    Banana bread and other fruit breads (such as date nut bread and raisin bread) are delicious with fresh cheeses and double-crème cheeses like Brie. The sweet bread really turns the cheese course into dessert. It the walnuts aren’t already baked into the banana bread, add them as a garnish.

    Spread: Creamy Light Swiss
    Pairing: Kale Leaf

    What selection of recipes would be complete without kale? Here, crunchy kale substitutes for bread (or the more conventional endive leaf), and a slice of turkey roll adds protein to this better-for-you “Swiss and turkey wrap.” Garnish with halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

     

    TANGY PAIRINGS

    Spread: Creamy Swiss Garlic & Herb
    Pairing: Pita Bites or Pita Chips

    Dress up plain old pita garlic and herb cheese spread, sliced black olives and strips of roasted red pepper (pimento). Optional garnish: snipped chives.

     
    Spread: Creamy White Cheddar Flavor
    Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

    Pretzel flats are an under-used pairing with cheese. They work with any cheese, from mild to spicy. Optional garnish: snipped herbs.

     
    Spread: Creamy Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
    Flavor
    Pairing: Mini Bagel

    Make a “white pizza” with mini bagels, or use bagel chips for a crispy change of pace. Optional garnish: oregano.

     
    Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

    This smoked salmon pairing also works with mini bagels and bagel chips. Optional garnish: snipped chives or minced red onion.

     

    pita-swiss-garlic-herb-230r

    No hummus today: a new way to enjoy pita. Photo courtesy The Laughing Cow.

     

    SPICY PAIRINGS

    Spread: Creamy Spicy Pepper Jack
    Pairing: Mini Cornbread Muffins

    You can toast the muffins if you like; and if you have day-old muffins that are starting to dry out, it’s tasty “save.”

     
    Spread: Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle
    Pairing: Baby Bell Peppers

    This south-of-the-border approach is a new way to use those adorable baby bell peppers. Stuff with The Laughing Cow Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle and top with some salsa fresca.

    Find more snack ideas at TheLaughingCow.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Choucroute Garnie

    Now that there’s as chill in the air, the people of Alsace have been cooking up their famous recipe, Choucroute Garnie—pronounced shoo-CROOT gar-NEE and translating to dressed sauerkraut.

    The “dressing” consists of sausages and other salted meats and, typically, potatoes. It’s stick-to-your-ribs goodness on a chilly day. You know it’s autumn when the dish appears on restaurant menus (call your local French restaurant to check). If you don’t have time or inclination to make your own, it’s available throughout France microwavable packages and canned form.

    Sauerkraut originated in German and Eastern Europe, the but the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine added it to the repertoire of French chefs. It has since become popular throughout France.

    Like cassoulet and pot au feu, it’s an inexpensive, everyday dish. Any combination of hot sauerkraut, meat and potatoes works, but traditional recipes utilize:

    • Three types of sausage, such as Frankfurt sausages, Strasbourg sausages and Montbéliard sausages (use whatever sausages you like—we used boudin blanc, knockwurst and smoked sausage).
       

    choucroute-garni-tourdefrancenyc-230

    Pork chop, back bacon, potatoes plus a bonus of baby carrots on a bed of sauerkraut. Photo courtesy TourDeFranceNYC.com.

    • Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork: back bacon, ham hocks or shank, pork knuckles and shoulders, salt pork.
    • Boiled potatoes (toss them with fresh parsley).
    • Seasonings: bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, garlic.
    • Sauerkraut, simmered in Riesling and juniper berries (we added some caraway seed, a personal favorite with sauerkraut).
    • Optional: chopped onion, sliced apples.
    • Mustard: we served three options, Dijon, grainy and horseradish mustards.

     
    Plain shredded cabbage can be added along with the sauerkraut to produce a less tangy, less acidic version. Hungarian recipes include stuffed cabbage leaves in addition to the other ingredients.

     

    choucroute-garni-quentinbacon-foodandwine-230

    Individually plated, with sliced potatoes. Photo © Quentin Bacon | Food & Wine. Here’s the recipe.

     

    For a high-end variation, Choucroute Royale is made by augmenting the basics with some more expensive ingredients:

    • Champagne instead of Riesling
    • Foie gras, goose, wild game
    • Fish
    • Duck choucroute garni, replacing the pork products with duck confit leg, duck sausage and duck breast.
    • A newer riff, seafood sausage choucroute is a meat-free option that includes seafood sausage, scallops, shrimp and flaky white fish on a bed of braised cabbage (not sauerkraut) with lobster sauce.

    While it takes a bit of time to prepare, the steps to a delicious choucroute garnie are easy:

    1. SIMMER sauerkraut with Riesling and juniper berries. Riesling has a very distinctive flavor, but if you don’t want to buy a bottle and drink the rest with dinner, use another dry white wine. We like to snip fresh parsley, sage or thyme into the cooked sauerkraut before plating.

    2. COOK your favorite cuts of pork: pork belly, pork chops, sausages, whatever. Boil the potatoes.

    3. PLACE the sauerkraut on a serving plate and top with the meat and potatoes. Uncork a bottle of Rieling. Voilà.

     

    Choucroute garnie can be served individually plated or family style, on a large platter.

    Here’s a complete recipe from Jacques Pépin for Food & WIne magazine.

      

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