My husband is of German descent. I grew up in Austria and have a love for German and Austrian food. A little German restaurant that we used to frequent in Anaheim had a good Sauerbraten – though the last time we went there the spätzle were not very good and the Sauerbraten also was not on its usual game either – we are a little scared to go back and try it again. Many Americanized recipes for Sauerbraten have a super sweet gravy that has been sweetened with gingersnaps, but I found that the authentic recipes are not super sweet. Many thicken the sauce with bread (dark rye bread) or a slurry of cornstarch. Like most things in life there is more than one way of doing things. I wanted to find a recipe that was not too sweet.The variations of Sauerbraten are as diverse as the regions that make it, so if you like it sweet find a recipe with gingersnaps. This time I made a rendition that I found on a German recipe site on the internet. It claims to be someone’s grandmother’s recipe. (link) I served ours with red cabbage and homemade spätzle (Wolfgang Puck’s Goulash and spätzle recipe follow directions for spätzle.)
Why is it called Sauerbraten? Sauer means sour. Braten means roast. What makes this dish unusual is the time it marinates. I let mine marinate for 3 days before preparing it. I made it to celebrate my husband’s birthday because he loves German food. I used a larger roast than the original recipe, because of the effort it takes to make the roast and because I wanted to get two meals out of it.
Sauerbraten (German recipe)
- 3-4 lb rump roast
- 3 onions, peeled and quartered
- 4 carrots, cut into pieces
- 8 Juniper berries (I found them at my local grocery store. Brand: Morton and Basset)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 leek, cleaned and cut into quarters lengthwise
- 3 1/4 cup vinegar (you could use red wine vinegar or white)
- 3 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- dash pepper
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp cold water
In a large pot, combine the quartered onions, pieces of carrot and cleaned leek. Add the vinegar and water. Add Juniper berries, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
I lined a large pot with a liner that is used for crock pots and folded the edges over the rim of the pot. I placed the roast into the bottom of the pot and poured the marinade (now at room temperature) over the roast. I tied the plastic liner shut and covered the pot with a lid (you do not have to use a liner, I wanted the keep as much as the roast covered as possible and the plastic “pulled” the liquid up and around it more than if it had just been in the pot by itself) Place the covered pot in your refrigerator. Turn the roast over once a day to allow the marinade to penetrate the roast completely. Do this for 3, 4 or even as long as 5 days.
Remove the meat to a plate and blot it dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper on all sides. Place the vegetables into a bowl and pour the remaining marinade through a mesh sieve to remove the Juniper berries and other seasonings. You will only use half of the marinade for the roast, discard other half or marinade
Heat a large pot over high heat and add canola oil. Brown the roast in the oil on all sides, 2-3 minutes on each side until it has a nice crust develop. Pour the reserved liquid over the roast to douse the roast and return the vegetables to the roast. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover the pot with a lid and and simmer for 90 minutes or more depending on the size of the roast. My roast was closer to 5 lbs than 3, so I found it was not finished after 90 minutes and because I had used my pressure cooker pot, I removed some of the liquid to a bowl and continued using the pressure cooker for 60 minutes so it would speed the cooking process. I am unsure now if my cut of meat was the right type. In hind sight I should have used my enameled cast iron pot and had it roast in the oven for 2 hours at 400F.
When the meat is done, remove it to a cutting board, remove any strings that may have been tied on by the butcher and slice the meat into thin slices. Place the meat into a baking dish and keep warm in an preheated oven (300 F). Return the liquid to the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables into the sauce. Taste the sauce for flavor and add seasonings if you desire. I found mine to be nicely flavored. I had a lot of liquid after blending the sauce. I poured about half of it to a smaller skillet to make the gravy. I made a slurry with the 3 Tbsp of water and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch in a small bowl and added the cornstarch mixture to the gravy in the skillet and brought it to a boil and cooked until thickened. Serve the gravy over spätzle and slices of Sauerbraten.
Printable Recipe -also included are the recipes for spätzle and red cabbage