One of my favorite German meals is Sauerbraten, Spätzle and red cabbage. I’ve been craving it lately and have wanted to try making the Sauerbraten for a long time. I love the spicy, tangy richness but since it takes 3-5 days to make, I was always too lazy to actually do it.
While we were grocery chopping last weekend I grabbed a 2lb pot roast and tossed it in the basket and decided I was fully committed this time.
I read a bunch of recipes online and then extrapolated what I wanted and came up with this (it most closely resembles Alton Brown‘s but I made a few changes):
- 2 C Vinegar ( I used a combination of red wine and apple cider)
- 2C Water
- 1 C Red wine
- 1T Salt
- 12 Juniper berries
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 5 Whole cloves
- 1 tsp. Mustard Seeds
- ½ tsp Allspice
- 10-12 Whole Pepper corns
- 2 Bay Leaves
- ½ tsp Coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp Caraway Seeds
- 2 slices Fresh Ginger
- (Or you can just use pickling spices which is basically all of the above spices mixed together)
Put all the above ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let cool.
- 1-4 pound beef of your choice – I used Chuck Eye Roast
- 2 carrots, chopped roughly
- 1 onion, chopped
Put the meat, onions and carrots in a Ziploc bag or a bowl and our the cooled marinade over the top. Stick it in the fridge and turn once daily for 3-5 days, depending on how vinegary you like it. I like things tangy so I’m leaving mine for 5 days.
I will return in 5 days to finish the process!
OK, 5 days later:
I am in no way claiming this is an authentic, traditional Sauerbraten recipe. I’ve read a bunch online and it seems like one of those dishes that everyone makes a little differently. There is a lot of passionate debate about the exact ingredients everyone’s grandfather added to the marinade or whether to put gingersnaps in the gravy.
I know I’ve always wanted to make it and I love anything sour so I knew I wanted to let it marinade for a long time. I let it sit in the fridge for five days. When I took it out it was dark purple from the red wine and super pickle-y smelling from all the wonderful spices.
I have to admit, I am still new to this blogging thing and while I had every intention of taking a ton of photos of each step, it all got a little frantic in the kitchen and I forgot to do it so you’ll have to use your imagination. I apologize; I’ll get better at this I swear.
I patted it dry, and wiped off all the mustard seeds and juniper berries that clung to it. Then I seared it on all sided in butter in my Dutch oven. I strained the marinade into the pot and picked all the onion and carrots out and threw them in as well.
I stuck the whole thing in a 300-degree oven and left it alone for 7 hours. I wanted the meat to be falling apart and when I took it out. It was. I had to pick it out of the pan sauce in a few big chunks.
I turned the oven down to low, covered the meat in foil and placed it in the oven to keep it warm.
Then, I kind of winged the gravy-making step since all the recipes are so different. I made a roux of butter and flour and cooked it till the flour was brown and toasty, then whisked in the strained marinade/cooking liquid. That was still pretty thick so I whisked in almost a pint of my home canned beef bone stock. When that was smooth I added a few handfuls of crushed gingersnaps, some brown sugar and some heavy cream.
I sliced the meat, served it with homemade späetzle and braised red cabbage, ladling the gravy over it all. I was super happy. My husband didn’t like it as much. I will admit, it was very vinegary, which he doesn’t like. I probably should have used a bigger roast and marinated it for only 3 days. I knew I was cooking more for my own taste than his, but it was my craving I was trying to satisfy.
He did eat a little bit of it and really enjoyed the späetzle.
Overall, I’m happy I tried it. I have a better idea how to make it more hubby-friendly next time and got to eat my fill of one of my all-time favorite meals. It was all even better then next day.
- Sauerbraten Lüchow’s (diplomatickitchen.com)
- Heritage Cooking 28: Sauerbraten (thingadayforever.wordpress.com)
- Schwäbische Spätzle Mit Schmelze (Swabian Noodles) (chefsopinion.org)