Yield: 6–8 generous portions
- 1 whole smoked ham hock
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup duck or goose fat (substitute vegetable shortening if desired)
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, about 6 ounces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch wedges
- 2 pounds fresh sauerkraut, rinsed and drained well
- 6 juniper berries
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ cups off-dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer wine
- 2 smoked pork chops (optional, see your butcher)
- Beer, as needed (Who knows, you might need a bit at this point. See my notes above on which styles of beer pair best.)
- 4 links bockwurst or boudin blanc sausages
- 4 links artisan frankfurters or knockwurst
- 2 pounds red skinned potatoes
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Place the whole ham hock and bay leaf in a saucepan with enough cool water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 2 hours, or until very tender. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool. Remove the meat from the ham hock in 2 to 3 large, lean chunks, discarding the bones and fat. Set the meat aside and cover with plastic.
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the duck or goose fat over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the garlic and apples, and cook 5 minutes longer. Add the sauerkraut, spices and bay leaves. Pour over the wine, and bring the pot to a simmer over medium-high heat. Nestle the reserved ham hock meat and smoked pork chops (if using) into the sauerkraut mixture, and add beer just to cover. Bring the pot back to a simmer, cover with a tightfitting lid, and transfer to the oven for 45 minutes.
While the choucroute is in the oven, sauté the sausages in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages (and any pan juices) to the top of the choucroute and continue to bake for 15 minutes longer. While the sausages bake with the choucroute, bring the potatoes to a simmer in a large pot of salted water. Cook until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Drain the potatoes, cut as desired and dress with the chopped parsley.
To serve, arrange the choucroute ingredients and the potatoes on a large, deep platter accompanied by a selection of mustards. Serve warm.