November 13, 2010

one of my top FIVE favorite foods of all-time.

think of this as corned beef, but about a thousand times more flavorful. if you’ve ever had real sauerbraten, you know the spicy-sweet fermented taste cannot be duplicated. don’t trust any recipe that says anything less than “soak meat in vinegar and wine for days and days”


  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups vinegar (I like a blend of apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar; making your own is easy!)
  • 1 or more cups water
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 2 T juniper berries, cracked open with the side of a knife blade or hit once with mortar and pestle
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Sauerbraten Spice (prepackaged can be found in the store, or make your own like I do, with mustard seed, juniper berry, peppercorn, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaf, clove, ginger, and cardamom. Sometimes i do a little more or less than three tablespoons; depends on the size of the cut of meat)
  • 4 pounds boneless beef roast

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • cups and cups and cups of vegetables – potatoes, carrots, celery, root veggies, or whatever you have around
  • 2 T flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • gingersnap cookies or pumpernickel bread, crumbled – enough to thicken sauce – usually less than one cup

Combine all marinade ingredients, except the roast itself, in 2-3 quart saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (Sometimes I’ve poured it over hot, and it’s been fine.)

Place the beef in a deep, non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl or pot just large enough to hold it. Pour marinade over beef. Add more liquids if the roast isn’t halfway covered. Refrigerate for 3 days, turning the meat in the marinade at least twice each day. I’ve left it up to four days and can’t vouch for five or more, but I’m sure as long as you’re turning the meat whenever you go into the kitchen, it could be fine in your fridge for a long, long time.

Remove meat from marinade and pat completely dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve and reserve the liquid. Discard spices and onions.

In heavy, 5-quart dutch oven, heat the butter until bubbling stops. Add the meat and brown on all sides, turning frequently, so that it browns evenly without burning. Transfer to platter and set aside.

For roasting, add the onions, carrots, and celery to the same pan you cooked the meat in. Cook over moderate heat until soft and light brown (5-8 minutes). Sprinkle 2T flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes longer or until the flour begins to color. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved marinade and 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil over high heat. Return the meat to the pot, cover tightly, and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Alternatively, bake in 350 degree oven for 2 hours.

(We cooked this most recent sauerbraten all day in a crock pot, but normally I do it in the oven. There wasn’t really a significant difference; sauerbraten is never bad.)

Pour the liquid left in the pot into a large measuring cup and skim fat from surface. You will need at least 2 1/2 cups for the sauce. If additional liquid is needed, add some of the reserved marinade.

Combine the liquid and the gingersnap crumbs in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently for approx. 10 minutes, allowing the crumbs to dissolve completely and thicken the sauce to the desired consistency.

Serve with dumplings, boiled potatoes, or spaetzle.
With all those roasted vegetables, you don’t really need a side, but you can never go wrong with stewed red cabbage, kartoffelsalat (black forest potato salad,) or kraut.

I am convinced that this is the best recipe, but if you know of any variations, please comment! I’d love to learn what other peoples’ families do.


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