in season

Where to Eat Choucroute

Choucroute garnie at McCrossen's Tavern

Choucroute garnie at McCrossen's TavernPhoto: McCrossen's Tavern

Old Man Winter may have spared us his worst this time around, but the milder climes haven’t done much to diminish our hunger for hearty, seasonal fare, which might explain why we keep seeing choucroute (or choucroute garnie, if you must) popping up on menus in recent weeks. The stick-to-your-ribs combination of slow-cooked sauerkraut, pork and sometimes potatoes is the Alsatian answer to Southern France’s wintery pork and beans comfort staple, Cassoulet. Bistrot La Minette’s Peter Woolsey and Brauhaus Schmitz’s Jeremy Nolen served theirs with a house-fermented sauerkraut during their recent “Dinner in Alsace.” This week Ben Puchowitz is running a traditional take on it with his pork-themed tasting menu at Matyson. He said he usually swaps out the pork with duck. McCrossen’s Tavern’s Townsend Wentz has been running variations of it on and off since October. “It’s total winter food, and I figured winter was on it’s way,” Wentz told Grub. “But it never came.”

Wentz added that his mentor Jean-Marie Lacroix recently stopped in for it, and enjoyed it so much he brought a friend back with him the next day and ordered it again. He says the secret to a successful choucroute is using quality sauerkraut and “at least four kinds of pork.”

At Brauhaus Schmitz’s Jeremy Nolan said that when it turned up there, it was a one-off dish served only for the Alsacian collaborative dinner, but since its roots are in Germany, his Schlachtplatte foots the same bill. “It’s sauerkraut garnished with pork,” Nolen said. “It’s just a German word for it.”

At newly anointed four-bell BYOB Bibou, Pierre Calmels said he will probably add his version of the dish to the menu in the next week or two. He likes to substitute the pork with pheasant breast and sausage made with pheasant leg. “I don’t like to do the traditional,” Calmels said. “I always put some bacon in for the smokiness, but prefer to use duck or some other game bird instead of pork.”

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