Sauerbraten – German Pot Roast

Three days before serving, have the butcher cut 3 1/4 pounds of round steak 1 1/2 inches thick. Place the round steak in a shallow enamel or glass dish. Combine:

  • sauerbraten-11 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 cups cold water

Pour these over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for three days. (After 1 1/2 days turn the meat over to expose all of it to the marinade.)

About 3 1/2 hours before serving:

  1. Remove steak from marinade, and dry with paper towel. Reserve marinade.
  2. In a large Dutch oven (big pot with lid), heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the meat and brown it well on both sides then remove.
  3. To the drippings in the Dutch oven, add
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  4. Brown the flour and sugar in the drippings, scraping the bottom of the pot well.
  5. Stir in the reserved marinade, and bring to a boil while stirring.
  6. Add the steak and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 3 hours or until fork-tender.

Ten minutes before serving, remove the steak to a platter. Carefully remove the surface fat from the cooked marinade. Stir in 10 crushed ginger snap cookies. Simmer the gravy until the cookies are dissolved – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cut the meat into 1/2″ thick slices and arrange on a serving dish.

Pour part of the gravy over the meat, and serve the rest in a gravy boat.

Serves 4 – 5.

Sauerbraten is especially good with potato pancakes, mashed potates, parsley potates, noodles, or dumplings. I always accompany it with cooked red cabbage.

“Kiss the cook – she’s German!” says a magnet on my mom’s refrigerator. Thirty-five years ago her German father gave her a recipe for sauerbraten (German pot roast)used by the once-famous German restaurant, Luchow’s, in New York City. Now, I know Wisconsin is over-run with sauerbraten recipes, -but this one is REALLY GOOD! Unlike typical American pot roast that dries up into strings of beef in the oven, this sauerbraten simmers in a marinade for three hours on the stove. It is tender and juicy and served with a comforting, light brown gravy that balances sweet with sour, and carrot, onion and ginger flavors. Plus, – It’s EASY to cook! I’m posting the recipe on the side page, Comfort Foods – Wisconsin Style.

I don’t make this sauerbraten as often as I should for two reasons. One, despite its soothing goodness, it is only craved when temperatures are below 50 degrees, – not really a problem in Wisconsin. But second, the beef must be specially cut by the butcher and then marinate in the refrigerator for three days. Thus, this sauerbraten cannot be served on a whim. True to its heritage, it exacts planning from the organized cook. (And now I’ve lost most of my readers.) But still – it IS easy to fix!

I especially like to serve sauerbraten when company’s coming for dinner. Most people have never tasted sauerbraten this delicious, so it is a new treat for them. But, more importantly for a company dinner, the sauerbraten doesn’t require attention when the guests arrive, and it can hang out on the stove until everybody feels like eating. In other words, this sauerbraten is laid-back and flexible, like the cook would like to be.

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