This week homemade sauerbraten was on the menu. I’ve wanted to make it for many years, ever since I had it in Cologne, Germany when I was 21. Since authentic sauerbraten has to marinate for three days, and I am not good at planning ahead, it took me 20 years to finally recreate it at home.
That’s me with the unfortunate perm in the photo below. What can I say. It was 1992. I was in Cologne with my friend Katja and her sister. I was lucky enough to spend a month with her that summer traveling and hanging out in Europe. We had just toured the incredible Cologne cathedral and were moving on to Kölsch (a local specialty beer brewed in Cologne) and sauerbraten. Too bad this photo shows more of my bad hair than the food itself. The food is what I really want to remember from that day, not my frizzy perm and the ten extra pounds I had packed on up eating and drinking my way through Europe.
After making the sauerbraten back home, I’ll tell you the only tricky thing about it is having the foresight to get the marinade going three days ahead of time. Some other sauerbraten recipes tell you to marinate the meat even longer. However, it’s a really simple dish. The meat is tender and the gravy is fabulous. The gingersnaps are the thickening agent, and give the gravy its distinctive flavor. Plus, the cousins had fun crushing them.
- 2 C. water
- 1 C. apple cider vinegar
- 1 C. red wine vinegar
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 whole cloves
- 12 juniper berries (found in the spice aisle)
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 (3½ to 4-pound) bottom round
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- ⅓ C. sugar
- 18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps, crushed
- In a large saucepan combine the water, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper, and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Rub the vegetable oil on the bottom round. Spread the salt on all sides and rub in. Heat a large skillet and brown the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Place the meat in a one-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and pour marinade over it. Remove all the air from the bag before sealing and marinate in the refrigerator for three days.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the meat in a glass baking dish. Add sugar to the marinade, cover and cook until tender, approximately 3½ - 4 hours.
- Remove the meat from the baking dish. Strain the remaining marinade to remove the solids. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the gingersnaps in with the marinade and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with potato dumplings or spaetzle noodles
This recipe was inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe on FoodNetwork.com.