Sauerbraten is a classic German Pot Roast. To make it, a big chunk of meat (beef is most common, but venison, lamb or pork can be used) is marinated, for several days, in vinegar, wine and spices that includes juniper berries. The meat is marinated for several days, in order to tenderize the meat. The vinegar gives the "sour" taste -- in a good way.
If you've read my "About Me" page, I talk about growing up with a Bavarian mom. As a little kid, my Mutti felt it was her duty to teach me how to cook. At the time, I was resentful about it. Today, I'm very grateful for all that she taught me. She is gone to her heavenly home, now, so I continue to carry on her traditional German recipes. Sauerbraten is one dish that I don't recall my mother making at home and I've never made one-- until now.
I used a beef bottom-round roast. See my tasting notes for a different cut that would work even better.
The February issue of Cuisine at Home Magazine was loaded with several recipes that jumped out at me. I made their Milk-Braised Pork Loin Roast with Porcini Mushroom Sauce (in a slow cooker) that was a total success. I also made their Cuban Style Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes-- also fast and really good. Lo and behold, there was a recipe for making this traditional German dish in a slow cooker, without marinating it for several days. Really? As I read the ingredients listing, I thought to myself "this could totally work"!
I keep ginger in the freezer, because I don't use it often enough. I minced one tablespoon of fresh ginger (don't use powdered, please).
Pickling spices are placed in a cheese cloth, and tied with string.
The ingredient that intrigued me, the most, was adding gin. Yep, gin. Gin is a juniper flavored distilled liquor, so that made perfect sense. I'm not much of a gin drinker, with the exception of a Ramos Fizz. I dug deep into the liquor cabinet, and yanked out a bottle of gin that had exactly 1/4 cup left. I wondered if I could just substitute juniper berries, instead of the gin. But, since I had the gin I figured I'd go ahead and finish up the bottle in the sauce.
For whatever reason, I really enjoy searing meat. It takes a bit of patience to pat the meat completely dry, to cut it up into smaller pieces, season it with coarse salt and pepper...
Clearjel in my baking pantry for thickening fruit pies. The label says it's also great for thickening stews and soups. So, I made a slurry of 1Tablespoon of Clearjel and whisked in a scoop of the sauce and added it back to the sauce. (This method ensures that I won't have lumpy sauce.)
I submerge the cheese cloth packet of pickling spices... and set the slow cooker to 4 hours on HIGH.
It's taken close to an hour for all the prep work, searing and sauce making. I placed the lid on the slow cooker, tidied up the kitchen and took a break.
red cabbage and Spätzle. Fortunately, my husband loves red cabbage as much as I do (my son won't touch it with a ten foot pole). I've seen Sauerbraten served with potatoes or potato dumplings...but, to me, Spätzle (spetz-lay) is my #1 choice.
While I identify, very closely, to my father's Mexican bloodline-- which means I absolutely love Mexican food-- my husband loves the German side that I got from my Mutti. Anytime that I make German food, he delights in it. Dinner was ready, and we were both anxious to eat. To us, a German dinner is not complete without a glass of cold German beer.
TASTING NOTES: The first tasting was a forkful of Spätzle with gravy. I took a bite and savored the flavor. Bam! The sauce/gravy was rich in flavor. I didn't taste gin, and I didn't taste red wine, but they definitely added good elements to the flavor. I agree that it might seem weird to add gingersnap cookies, but they melted right into the sauce, and I think helped to thicken the gravy. The gingersnaps have the front row, for flavor and I think they're a great addition-- so I'm keeping it! The red wine and tomato paste gave the sauce a beautiful rich color, and the Clearjel had thickened the sauce to perfection.
chuck eye roast. I use this cut of meat, exclusively, for braised meat dishes, like my Austrian Goulash or any kind of stews or soups. The bottom round roast was good, but not nearly as buttery and tender as a chuck eye roast would have been. I think that's because this recipe was written to avoid the days of marinating the beef.
The vegetables were more on the "al dente" side. We like our vegetables this way, but if you prefer really soft carrots, then I'd add them an hour earlier. Just sayin'.
I really, REALLY, liked this recipe. A part of me is thinking I might be able to adapt this to my pressure cooker-- and I will try that method. I would also think this recipe would work in a Dutch Oven. I'd probably braise this at 275F for 2-3 hours. If anyone tries it, this way, please let me know how it turns out.
I wish my Mutti was around to take part in this dinner. I think she would have loved it. I have a few more German recipes that I plan to recreate. This Sauerbraten will be a part of my annual Oktoberfest menu, for sure. My family will love it! I hope that you do, too.
Here's to you, Mutti!
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