The gastronomy of Alsace-Lorraine, a region in Northeast France, is perfect for this time of year!  The ingredients and dishes conjure comfort food galore to enjoy in your cozy fall sweater. Historically, the land that makes up Alsace-Lorraine has been passed back and forth between Germany and France over the years. After having been a part of France since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the region was ceded to Germany after the Franco-German War in 1871, returned to France after World War I in 1919, annexed by Germany once more in 1940, and then finally given back to France in 1945 at the end of World War II where it remains today. Thus, the history combined with the shared border produces a heavy influence of the German cuisine found here.

Recipes with pork (porc), sauerkraut (choucroute), muenster cheese, and juniper berries (baies de genévrier) are well-known in the cuisine of Northeastern France.  Famous dishes from this region include: 

  • Quiche lorraine, a quiche consisting of egg, cream,and smoked bacon/lardons. Add onions and you have quiche alsacienne!  The word “quiche” is said to have come from the German word for cake, “kuchen”. 
  • Kouglof, a sweet brioche with raisins often made in a Bundt mold.
  • Baeckeoffe, a casserole dish made of potatoes, vegetables, and meat. It is said that traditionally women prepared this on Saturday evenings, leaving it with the baker to cook while attending church on Sunday. An alternative version of this story has the woman leaving the Baeckeoffe at the baker on Monday while doing their laundry. 
  • Coq au Riesling, a variation of coq au vin made with local Riesling wine.
  • Tarte flambée, also known as Flammkuchen, a thin crust pizza topped with cream, onion, and chopped bacon.

This week we’re highlighting the cuisine from this region as part of the French Library’s partnership with the Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association.  Starting in September we have several joint programs with this organization to celebrate the relationship between Boston and its French sister city Strasbourg, the largest city in Alsace-Lorraine.  You can find a calendar of all of this program's events here

In the mood for food?  Here are some samples of Alsatian recipes you can prepare as you travel the globe from the comfort of home!  

Entrée: Tarte à l’oignon (Onion tart)

Ingredients

3 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for pan
¼ teaspoon salt
6 yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ounces smoked bacon lardons

Directions

Gently combine 3 cups flour, ¾ cups butter and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt with enough cold water to form dough. Refrigerate while completing other steps.
Heat oven to 350˚F.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft but not browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Add remaining 2 tablespoons flour, eggs, milk, cream, black pepper, nutmeg and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt, and mix well.
Grease 12-inch tart pan with butter. Roll out dough, and press into pan. Add onion mixture, and sprinkle lardons over top. Bake 45 minutes, or until crust turns golden brown. Serves 12.
Recipe and Photo from Wine Enthusiast (winemag.com)

Plat: Choucroute et porc à l’Alsacienne (Alsatian pork and sauerkraut)


Ingredients

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) can sauerkraut, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
3 potatoes, quartered
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
12 juniper berries
6 whole black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
4 (6 ounce) boneless pork chops
1/2 inch thick 1 pound kielbasa sausage, cut into 3-inch pieces

Directions

Place the bacon in a large, deep pot, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring to turn pieces occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon pieces on a paper towel-lined plate. With a paper towel, wipe the bacon grease out of the pot but keep as much of the brown bits as possible. Stir in the onion, sauerkraut, brown sugar, and chicken broth, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the potatoes and apple slices.
Place the juniper berries, peppercorns, cloves, parsley, and bay leaf into a small cheesecloth square, and tie the ends together to make a spice bag (or place the spices into a stainless steel tea ball). Place the spice bag into the pot, and add the pork chops and kielbasa sausage pieces. Add more chicken broth, if needed, to just cover the ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 1 hour.
To serve, use a slotted spoon to remove the sauerkraut, potatoes, and apple slices to the center of a serving platter. Arrange bacon, pork chops, and kielbasa pieces around the outside of the platter.
Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Dessert: Pain d'épice au chocolat (Chocolate gingerbread)


Ingredients

100 g dark chocolate
¼ cups honey
2 ½ cups whole grain flour
1 tablespoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of a mixture of
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • star anise
3 tablespoons of butter
2 whole eggs
¾ cup water

Directions

Melt the chocolate in squares in a pot with water and honey.  Mix the flour with spices and baking soda.  Pour the honey and chocolate mix into the flour mixture; mix with a whisk.  Add the egg.  Coat a cake pan with butter, pour in the mixture, and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Recipe and photo from Alsace-terroir.com

Natalie Collet

Former Membership Manager

From the Midwest, Natalie is a Francophile at heart. Her interest in French started when studying ballet and​ the language and culture entranced her through her student years.​ She became involved with the - Alliance - in the suburbs of Chicago after she spent an unforgettable year teaching English in a French high school near Bordeaux. She is happy to join the team in Boston and work with the members to provide them with unique opportunities​, ​quality programming​, and a community through French!

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