French Lessons
1 litre
20 mins
Cooking time
180 mins
Steve Brown

This famous fermented cabbage dish is a specialty of Alsace and Lorraine and neighbouring areas of Germany, where it is known as sauerkraut. The recipe varies from region to region – this is my version.


Quantity Ingredient
15 juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
3 garlic cloves
8 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
100g Wet citrus salt
1 cabbage, tough outer leaves removed
100ml duck fat, rendered
2 onions, finely sliced
150g pancetta
500ml riesling


  1. Put the juniper berries, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, garlic, thyme and bay leaf in a mortar and pound until roughly crushed and fragrant. Tip into a large mixing bowl with the salt and rub together well.
  2. Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out the core. Shred as finely as you can and add to the salt mix. Toss everything together well, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to ferment. This can take between 24 and 48 hours – the longer you leave it, the stronger the flavour.
  3. When ready to continue, preheat the oven to 120ºC. Tip the fermented cabbage into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold running water.
  4. Heat the duck fat in a large casserole or braising pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sweat gently for 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the rinsed cabbage, the pancetta and the wine.
  5. Cut a piece of baking paper to the size of the pan and place on top of the cabbage mixture. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and braise in the oven for 4 hours. Stir every 30 minutes or so, to ensure the contents don’t stick and burn. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Tip out onto a shallow tray and pick out the pieces of crushed spice. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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