Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve Sauerbraten

From my Christmas Eve dinner.

From the minute the idea gelled in my mind to have a mostly-German themed dinner, I knew I wanted to make Sauerbraten. I knew that I wanted to recreate the one we grew up eating. The Sauerbratens I'd tried since the last time I had it at Gasthaus Edelweiss, over 20 years earlier, never came close to the original.

I was cautiously optimistic when I smelled the marinade simmering the very first evening; it smelled just right to me. I base a lot of my cooking on how things smell as well as how they taste. By the time it had finished simmering on Thursday night, I knew I was close, but when my sister tasted the leftovers on Christmas day, even though cold, she said, "OMG, this is just like the Sauerbraten from Gasthaus Edelweiss!"

Success. :)


  • 5 - 6 pound eye of round roast
For the marinade:
  • 1 ½ cups of red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 onions, sliced
For the braise:
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into large chunks
For the gravy:
  • ½ - ¾ cup crushed gingersnaps
  • Sour cream

  1. 3 - 4 days before you plan on cooking the meat, rinse the eye of round roast and pat dry. Place in a large, 2-gallon ziplock freezer bag. Put that in a large bowl (I used the ceramic dish from my 8-qt crock pot).

  2. Put the marinade ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not boil. Turn off the heat, take it off the burner and let cool.

  3. Once the marinade has almost come to room temperature, carefully pour it onto the meat inside the bag. Press out the air and seal it up. Rotate the meat once or twice, making sure each side has had contact with the marinade. Place the bag back into the bowl and put it in the fridge to marinate for 3-4 days.

  4. Flip the meat at least once every 24 hours as it marinates to be sure that each side of the meat has had extra time sitting in the marinade.

  5. On the morning of the day you’d like to eat, take the meat out of the marinade and wipe it dry. Strain and reserve the marinade liquid. Brown the meat in olive oil in a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat.

  6. Place the meat in a large crock pot (8 quart or bigger) and cover with the reserved marinade. Add the 2 sliced onions and carrots, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.

  7. Every few hours, flip the meat in the broth as it cooks to ensure an even braise.

  8. When the meat is ready, take it out to rest on a platter. Strain the liquid into a saucepan and heat it up. Whisk in gingersnap crumbs to thicken the gravy to the consistency you like.

  9. Slice and serve with the gingersnap gravy. Optionally, you can put a dollop of sour cream on top and mix it in with the gravy.

  • Timing: I started making this on a Monday night to be eaten on a Thursday.

  • Advice: get the best cut of meat you possibly can. I went to a German deli/butcher shop locally for this meat which was trimmed up fresh for me.

  • This thing was a beast! I had the hardest time flipping it while I was browning it, but that’s because it was crowded into my 7-qt dutch oven. Use the largest pots and bowls possible to make it an easier job.

  • The recipes I consulted for a roast this size said to cook on low for 10-12 hours, but it was done after 10 hours, and only a few of my guests had arrived, and it wasn’t even time for appetizers. The next time I make this, I will start it a few hours later.

  • Of course, this thing can be cooked in a dutch oven on a low simmer on the stove-top or in a slow oven (200F).

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