Friday, October 30, 2009

Sauerbraten (German-style Pot Roast)


During the fall, a good pot roast is a great comforting dish to enjoy. For my recent German Wine & Dine event, I wanted to attempt a traditional Sauerbraten, which is a German style pot roast. It took about 3 days to prepare but worth every minute.

The roast is marinated in a combination of cider and red vinegar, along with water and a few spices. Traditionally, juniper berries are used in making this dish. I didn't get a chance to pick any up at my local spice shop but even without the juniper berries, the dish was delicious! The roast marinates for 2-3 days (I marinated for 2) and then sugar is added to both the marinade and meat. It's covered and baked at a low temperature for about 4 hours. It may seem like it takes up quite a bit of time, but the results definitely pay off.

Once the roast has baked up, the marinade is strained and then placed in a pan to boil. It's such a acidic mixture that to balance it out, some sugar and spices are needed. What was interesting about making a gravy from the marinade is the addition of powdered gingersnap cookies. After it boiled a bit, a gorgeous, thick and rich gravy was made and perfectly complimented the roast.

I plan on making this again despite the amount of time it takes to prepare... and my guests loved it!

Sauerbraten (German-style Pot Roast)
recipe adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed


In a large saucepan over high heat combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, and ground mustard. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides. Heat a large saute pan over high heat; add the meat and brown on all sides, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

When the marinade has cooled to a point where you can stick your finger in it and not be burned, place the meat in a non-reactive vessel and pour over the marinade. Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.

After 3 days of marinating, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Add the sugar to the meat and marinade, cover and place on the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, approximately 4 hours.

Remove the meat from the vessel and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and place over medium-high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.