Wednesday, June 30, 2010

RECIPE - Chucrute (The Brazilian Take on Sauerkraut) REPOST

(Please click here to read about this series of reposts of original posts from May 24, 2010 to June 12, 2010)

Southern Brazil's state of Santa Catarina received a large influx of European immigrants in the 19th Century, continuing on into the early years of the 20th Century. They came to the south of Brazil as it was fertile land, suitable for agriculture, and most of had been farmers in Europe. The south was relatively unpopulated at the time, and so was eager to absorb and immigrant population. And finally, the temperate climate of the south, with hot summers and cold, sometimes freezing, winters was less of shock to the immigrants' systems than the tropics further north.

One of the most numerous groups of immigrants that came to Santa Catarina were from Germany. The first German immigrants arrived in 1828, and by the end of the 19th Century, large parts of Santa Catarina were settled primarily by Germans. The two largest settlements were in Blumenau and Joinville, cities which today still have a very German flavor. At the present date, 40% of the population of Santa Catarina can trace its roots back to Germany, and in some areas of the state, German is more commonly spoken than Portuguese.

One of the recipes that arrived in Santa Catarina with the early immigrants from Germany was sauerkraut, still a popular dish today. Over time, influenced by the French name for sauerkraut - choucroute - the Portuguese name changed to the somewhat more Latin-influenced chucrute (pronounced shoe-crew-tchee), but the recipe is still recognizable as German sauerkraut. Here's how chucrute is made today in Blumenau, Joinville and numerous other towns and villages of Santa Catarina.
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RECIPE - Chucrute
Serves 4

1 lb. sauerkraut (preserved in glass jar is better than tinned)
1/2 cup smoked bacon, in 1/3" cubes
5 bay leaves
5 black peppercorns
8 dried juniper seeds
pinch of granulated white sugar
1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
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Put the sauerkraut in a sieve or colander and run cold water over it to remove the brine. then squeeze it gently in the hands to remove excess moisture. Put the bacon cubes in a heavy, medium saucepan, and fry it until the fat is rendered and cubes are crispy. Add the bay leaves, the peppercorns, the juniper and the sliced onion and continue to fry over medium heat until the onion is soft and transparent but not browned. Add the sauerkraut, forkfuls at a time, and using the fork to separate the strands. Stir well, add the white wine, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced by half. Serve immediately.

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