Sauerkraut Casserole with Smoked Chicken

The world looks unrealistically bright, and soft, almost without color. Voices are smothered, cars seem to disappear, it feels quiet and serene outside. When there’s snow I’m always caught by the beauty of winter light. Winter, snow and sauerkraut…they belong together. Yesterday, I made this casserole with celeriac root and potato mash, leeks, red bell pepper, and caraway seeds. So simple yet so full of flavor. Sometimes we’ll have it with smoked sausage, but more often with smoked chicken. I couldn’t think of anything more comforting on this snowy day.

Serves 4
Action Time: 30-35 minutes + 25 minutes oven time

500 g sauerkraut
1 tsp caraway seeds, plus extra
a splash of white wine or water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced (reserve some green parts for the garnish)
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cubed
a good splash of cream
1 large or 2 small smoked chicken breasts (about 400 g) or smoked sausages

Celeriac and potato mash:
about 250 g celeriac root, peeled and cut into cubes
1 kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
a splash of milk
a knob of butter
1/2 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
2 tbps Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Extra: ovenproof skillet, potato masher

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Put the sauerkraut in a small pan, add the caraway seeds and a splash of white wine or water, cover and let simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, make the celeriac and potato mash. Cook the celery root in large pan of boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook everything until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander. Heat some milk in the pan and return the vegetables to it. Add some butter and using a potato masher, mash the vegetables until you have a soft puree. Mix in the mustard and season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add the leeks and cook for 3 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until the leeks are soft. Mix in the sauerkraut and cream. Cover the pan and let simmer for several minutes.

4. Spread the celeriac and potato mash on top of the sauerkraut mixture and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the smoked chicken breasts or sausages according to the instructions on the package. The chicken breasts that I’m using are vacuum packed so I heat them for about 10 minutes in very hot water. Slice the chicken breasts or sausages and put on top of the casserole. Sprinkle over some extra caraway seeds and some raw green slices of leek.

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