Deciding on dinner following his marathon drive through France and into Switzerland in pursuit of Goldfinger in the novel of Goldfinger (1959), James Bond eschews the opulent surroundings of Geneva’s Hotel des Bergues, where he is staying, and opts instead for the rustic and hearty offerings of the nearby Bavaria brasserie. We’re told simply that Bond has choucroute, but assuming that he isn’t planning on chomping his way through a plate of pickled cabbage, it’s more reasonable to imagine that he has choucroute garnie – sauerkraut liberally garnished with assorted pork products. The dish is a speciality of the Alsace region of France, and being an Alsatian restaurant, it’s natural that the Bavaria would serve it. The restaurant, incidentally, actually existed in Fleming’s time, but its location, at 49 rue du Rhône, is now occupied by Prada.
Serves three to four
- 650g sauerkraut (c 450g drained)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced into rings
- Generous pinch of black pepper
- 100g smoked lardons
- 2-4 juniper berries, crushed
- c 30g butter
- 150ml white wine (preferably Alsace)
- 600ml vegetable stock or water
- 150g garlic sausage, sliced
- 3 or 4 slices of pork belly
- 400-500g potatoes
- 4-6 frankfurters
Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-assisted; 300F). On the hob, melt the butter in a casserole or deep oven-proof dish. Over a medium flame, fry the onion, carrot, and lardons until the onion has softened. Meanwhile, drain the sauerkraut, rinse thoroughly and squeeze out excess liquid. Add the sauerkraut to the casserole, along with the black pepper and juniper berries. Mix the ingredients well and pour in the stock or water and wine. Cover the casserole with a lid and place it in the oven.
After 2 hours, remove the casserole from the oven, remove the lid and bury the pork belly slices within the mixture and stir in the garlic sausage. Cover the casserole again and put it back into the oven for another 2 hours.
With 1 hour remaining, peel the potatoes, cut them in half or quarters, depending on on size, and boil them in salted water until cooked. Drain the potatoes and put them aside.
With about 15-20 minutes cooking time left, remove the casserole from the oven, lift the lid and gently fold the potatoes and frankfurters into the sauerkraut. Cover and return the dish to the oven for the remaining time.
Remove the casserole from the oven and serve. Accompany servings with Löwenbrau or the remaining Alsace wine. If at any stage of the cooking, the sauerkraut seems too dry, add a little more liquid.