I was just reading about how sauerkraut is good for your gut. This article is interesting, as is this one. Good to know, though health benefits aren’t the primary reason I eat it. “Real” sauerkraut simply tastes wonderful and reminds me of Alsace.
Alsace is a region of France that I find absolutely beautiful, especially in autumn. This year marks the first in several that I haven’t gone to Strasbourg and surrounding villages in late October. Usually, I accompany a group of middle schoolers to Alsace just before the Toussaint vacation (which just started this week). Our little trip is always a welcome break, primarily because it gets us out of the classroom and into the fresh air. What I like best about the region are the open spaces. Once you’re out of Strasbourg, you’re surrounded by natural beauty: the Vosges mountains, vineyards, and cabbage patches reign. If you’re lucky, you’ll even see a stork or two.
Whenever I visit Alsace, my sense of smell also comes alive, thanks to the use of spices in the cuisine. Two fragrant Alsatian specialties that I enjoy are pain d’épices (imagine the warm aroma of cinnamon, anise seed, nutmeg, and ginger) and choucroute (yes, tradition calls for cloves in the sauerkraut).
Since I didn’t take the trip this year, I reminisced here at the house. We’re lucky that Alsatian choucroute is sold at our local farmers’ market. Traditionally, choucroute is a meal which includes sauerkraut, steamed potatoes and a hefty pile of sausages and other meats. While I’m all for the sauerkraut and potatoes, I replace the meats with a piece of baked salmon and homemade sauce au beurre blanc (a white wine and butter sauce that accompanies fish quite well).
I use the basic recipe from one of my cooking Bibles: Tout Robuchon. My most-successful sauce so far was made with Riesling (a slightly sweet white wine from Alsace, as well as the Rhine region of Germany). What you don’t use in the recipe, you can happily drink with your sauerkraut.
Here’s my version of sauce au beurre blanc (for two people):
|Sauce au beurre blanc|| |
- 1 small shallot (finely chopped, about 1 tablespoon)
- 5 cl Riesling
- 125 grams salted butter (or half salted and half unsalted)
- Salt (if needed, to taste)
- Place the shallots and wine in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. (Robuchon mentions that the liquid should evaporate by about ⅔).
- While the shallots and wine are simmering, cut the butter into small cubes.
- Turn off the burner and add the butter, beating vigorously with a whisk until all is melted and incorporated.
- Salt, if needed, and pepper.
- Serve hot over fish, but no not let the sauce boil.