Like everyone else during lockdown, I’ve had one thing in surplus despite all the panic buying… time. So I put that time to good use and made myself some sauerkraut. And there are three things I have learnt: there’s a lot of chopping, you need a lot of patience and, finally, the result is delicious.
So here’s a take on one of my favourites from the brasseries around Gare de l’Est in Paris; a clove roasted joint of ham with homemade sauerkraut. This makes a lot, so have plenty of large jars handy.
Music to listen to while preparing this dish: ‘Souvenirs de l’Est’ by Patricia Kaas
Ingredients for the sauerkraut
- 2 Large white cabbages (this is traditional but you can use any you like, I added carrot to mine but no real need, I just had some spare). This should weigh in around 2kg
- 6 tbsp Maldon Sea Salt – I’m not normally a snob for salt but this will make the initial prep easy
- 2 tsp Pink peppercorns (caraway seeds are traditional, I’m just not a fan)
Ingredients for the roast ham
- A 1kg unsmoked gammon joint
- 36-ish Cloves
- 2 Star anise
Method for sauerkraut
- Deep clean a very large mixing bowl – it needs to be big enough to hold your cabbage with room to spare.
- Shred the cabbage finely – a food processor makes quick work of this. If you don’t have one, take your time with this stage and slice finely, it’ll pay off in the next stage.
- Tip your cabbage into your bowl, sprinkle over the salt and massage it through the cabbage for a good 10 minutes. You’ll be glad you used flakes not crystals as they absorb more easily.
- Take a rest for 10 minutes then massage the mix for another 10 minutes. After this your cabbage should be a much-reduced mulch sitting in its own juice.
- Add the peppercorns and mix them through.
- Weigh the cabbage down with a few clean plates so the cabbage is covered with its brine. Cover the bowl with its lid and leave in a dark, cool place for a minimum of a week. Be careful how you store it: too cold and the fermentation will take longer, too hot and it may get mouldy so no more than 19 degrees.
- Check every day to remove and scum, give it a stir and check it’s fermenting nicely.
- After a week it is ready to decant into your sterilised jars and for storing in the fridge, but you can leave it longer. The longer you do leave it, the more sour it becomes. I find a week is enough.
At the end of a week, your sauerkraut should look like this
Now you’ve done the veg, it’s time to get the meat on the go….
Method for roasted ham
- Heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan).
- Remove all the packaging from your ham and put in a low roasting tin.
- Prick the large, wide, rounded sides with some kitchen tweezers – you’ll need around 18 small holes per side.
- Push your cloves into the holes on both sides. Push a star anise in among the cloves on each side.
- Put the ham in the tin so one side of cloves is tin-side down while the other is facing up.
- Cover with foil and roast. After 45 mins remove the foil and roast for a further 30 mins (1hr 15mins in total)
- Once cooked, remove from the tin and let cool under some foil.
- Once cooled, use your kitchen tweezers to remove the calve and then carve your ham.
You’re now ready to assemble your dish… so gently warm a portion of the sauerkraut with a little of its brine and serve with a generous amount of sliced ham and an even more generous dollop of Maille Dijon Mustard.
Serve with a Big Fine Girl Rieslingfrom the Clare Valley
The finished dish – one week and a lot of massaging makes for a great and healthy, dish.