"Honey, " my husband said gently, " that was a SMOKED ham. It's supposed to be pink."
When my kids were growing up, my go-to recipe for birthday dinners was Michael Fields' genius recipe for Choucroute Garni in his marvelous book, "All Manner of Food" (still one of my favorite cookbooks, as evidenced by the food stains on many pages).
Choucroute is the French word for sauerkraut and the dish can be made with all different kinds of pork like bacon, sausages, pork chops and/or ribs. It's REALLY porky and makes a warming winter meal ( it helped that everyone in the family had birthdays from December through March).
That recipe was also time-consuming, which was why it was saved for special occasions.But here's another, easy choucroute recipe that can even be cooked on a weeknight. This is traditionally served with boiled potatoes, but to make it Paleo, serve with baked sweet potatoes.
1 large onion, sliced
1 TBS coconut oil
2 large pears, peeled, cored and cut in chunks
4 slices raw no-nitrate bacon, ( preferably without sugar, like Vermont Smoke & Cure
Cider-Brined Low Sodium or Garret Valley Sugar-Free Dry Rubbed) cut in small pieces
1 pound sauerkraut, drained
1/2 pound breakfast sausages, made without grains, soy, or dairy
1 rack spareribs, OR 2 boneless pork chops, each chop cut in two portions
1 TBS olive oil, if using spareribs
3 cups low sodium chicken broth (I use Imagine brand)
4 sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish
2. Melt coconut oil in large,oven-proof pan.
3. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft, 5 minutes
4.Add pears and cook for another 5 minutes
5. Add sauerkraut and bacon and cook for another 5 minutes, then add chicken broth, bay leaf and parsley sprigs and bring to a boil; cook on low heat for about 15 minutes
6. If using ribs, brush with olive oil and roast ribs in oven for 20 minutes; if using boneless pork chops, salt and pepper then sear chops on each side in a frying pan until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
7. At the same time, prick each sausage with a fork, add about 1/2 inch water to a baking dish add sausages to the dish and roast for 15 minutes
8. When sausages and ribs are done roasting (or when pork chops are seared), lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bury meats in the sauerkraut, cover the pan, and cook in the oven for 1/2 hour. If using ribs, cut the rack into individual ribs before burying in sauerkraut.
9. To serve, remove bay leaves and parsley sprigs, mound sauerkraut on a platter. If sausages are large, cut each one in half and place on top of sauerkraut, then pile on the ribs or boneless pork chops. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with mustard on the side, if desired.
Pork Loin Braised in Coconut Milk
Pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
1 tsp coarse sea salt and a few grindings of fresh pepper
1 TBS fresh rosemary, chopped
1 TBS fresh sage, chopped
1 TBS ghee (clarified butter)
1 TBS coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 can full-fat organic coconut milk
Rosemary sprigs for garnish
2. Melt ghee and coconut oil in heavy pan, brown meat on all sides, then remove meat from pan.
3. Using the fat in the pan (pour some off if it seems like too much), sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent, but not brown.
4. Add mushrooms to the onions and cook until soft.
5. Return meat to the pan and carefully pour in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and partially cover pan.
6. Cook over low heat for about an hour, basting with sauce from time to time, until meat is done. Remove meat from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
7. Raise heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, stirring, until it thickens.
8. Slice tenderloin and serve with sauce, onions and mushrooms . Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.