Sauerbraten is a traditional German dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. The name "Sauerbraten" translates to "sour roast," which refers to the tangy and savory flavors that are characteristic of this dish. It is believed to have originated in the Rhineland region of Germany, where it was traditionally prepared using horse meat. However, nowadays it is more commonly made with beef, specifically a piece of cross-rib or middle cut of chuck.
To prepare Sauerbraten, you will need the following ingredients:
- 3 pounds of cross-rib or middle cut chuck
- Boiling vinegar (enough to cover the meat; you may use one-third water)
- 4 bay leaves
- Whole peppercorns
- Whole mace
- 1 tablespoon of drippings
- 1-2 onions, sliced
- Flour (for thickening the gravy)
The first step in preparing Sauerbraten is to marinate the meat. Place the meat in a deep earthen jar and pour enough boiling vinegar over it to cover it completely. You can also add one-third water to the vinegar if desired. To enhance the flavors, add four bay leaves, a handful of whole peppercorns, a few cloves, and some whole mace to the boiling vinegar. Once the vinegar mixture is ready, pour it over the meat and make sure it is fully submerged. The meat should be marinated in this pickling liquid for several days, turning it daily to ensure it absorbs the flavors evenly. In the summer, three days is sufficient, but during the winter, it is recommended to marinate the meat for at least eight days.
When you are ready to cook the Sauerbraten, start by heating one tablespoon of drippings in a stew-pan. Add the sliced onions and sautÃ© them until they become tender and translucent. Next, place the beef in the stew-pan, ensuring that you salt it on both sides before stewing. Cover the stew-pan tightly and let the meat cook slowly over low heat. If the meat is not acidic enough, you can add some of the brine in which it was pickled to enhance the flavor. Allow the meat to stew for approximately three hours, or until it becomes tender and easily falls apart.
After the meat is cooked, the next step is to thicken the gravy. Remove the beef from the stew-pan and set it aside. Gradually add flour to the stewing liquid while stirring continuously until the desired thickness is achieved. You can adjust the amount of flour according to your preference. Once the gravy reaches the desired consistency, return the beef to the stew-pan and let it simmer in the gravy for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
Sauerbraten is typically served with traditional German accompaniments such as potato dumplings or boiled potatoes, red cabbage, and applesauce. The tangy and aromatic flavors of the Sauerbraten complement the hearty sides perfectly, creating a wholesome and satisfying meal.
Fun fact: Traditionally, Sauerbraten was made with horse meat because it was considered to be more tender and flavorful than beef. However, due to changing food preferences and availability, beef has become the more common choice for making this dish.
Similar recipes: There are several variations of Sauerbraten across different regions of Germany. For example, in the Rhineland, the marinade often includes red wine and is left to marinate for a longer period, sometimes up to two weeks. In Franconia, gingerbread crumbs are added to the meat during the marinating process, giving it a unique flavor. Another popular variation is the Rheinischer Sauerbraten, which is made with raisins and sugar, adding a hint of sweetness to the dish.