- 2 pounds fresh sauerkraut
- 4 tablespoons butter or duck, chicken or goose fat
- ¼ pound pancetta or bacon, cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 3 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns
- 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
- 1 head garlic, split in half
- 2 ham hocks, scored
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups dark or amber beer, such as Abita Amber
- 1 ½ pounds small red new potatoes, halved if large
- 1 pound garlic sausage, kielbasa, or knockwurst
- 1 pound bratwurst or veal sausage
- Creole, Whole Grain or Dijon Mustard for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Place the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse briefly to remove some of the salt from the brine – don’t rinse it too much, or you will lose a lot of the flavor. (Alternately, if sauerkraut is not excessively salty, use as is.) Press to release most of the excess liquid and set aside. In a large non-reactive skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat and add the bacon. Cook for 5 minutes, not allowing the bacon to brown. Add the onions and continue to cook until they are soft but not browned, about 8 to10 minutes. Transfer bacon-onion mixture to a 3 ½ or 4 quart non-reactive ovenproof casserole or Dutch oven. Add the drained sauerkraut and toss to combine. Using a small piece of cheesecloth, make a bouquet garni with the thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries and garlic and place in the baking dish. Add the ham hocks, chicken stock and beer and stir to combine. Add the new potatoes to the pot, cover and bake for 2 hours, undisturbed.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the sausages on all sides and set aside.
When the sauerkraut and hocks have baked for 2 hours and the hocks are tender, remove the casserole from the oven. Place the sausages on top of the sauerkraut. If the liquid has evaporated to below two-thirds full level, add a bit more water to the casserole at this time. Cover the casserole and return it to the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sausages are cooked through. Remove the casserole from the oven and discard the bouquet garni. Serve immediately, with each person receiving some of each of the sausages, part of a hock, potatoes and sauerkraut. Pass the mustard at the table.
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