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Sauerbraten (German for "sour braised meat") is a traditional German dish. It is a beef roast that is marinated for a few days in red wine, vinegar and spices, so that the meat acquires a tangy but pleasant flavor.
Marinating in an acidic environment also helps to tenderize the meat.
The meat is then braised with vegetables, fruit, the marinade and a bit of nutmeg, ginger and clove. The roast is served with a sweet and sour sauce that is made from the braising liquid.
There are regional variants of Sauerbraten in Germany. I prefer the sweet-and-sour variant from the Rhineland ("Rheinischer Sauerbraten").
In my recipe, I create a spicy note by adding 1-2 hot chili piquins to the marinade, but you can of course leave it out if you don't like spicy food. I also use some dried apricot to add flavor to the sauce. The recipe is also a bit heavier on garlic than the average German recipe.
Meat and Marinade
- 2 ½ lbs / ca. 1kg beef chuck roast (not too lean)
- 1 cup / 250ml red wine
- 1 cup / 250ml vinegar
- 2 cups / 500ml water
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 juniper berries
- 1 tbsp peppercorns cracked
- 1-2 chili piquin (optional)
Preparing the Roast
- 1-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp clarified butter / butterfat
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- ½ stalk celery, chopped
- ½ carrot, chopped
- 1 oz / 30g dried apricot
- 5 oz / 150g raisins
- pinch of dried ginger
- pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- pinch of allspice
- 2 cloves
- ¼ cup / 60ml sour cream
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
Marinating the Meat
- Combine wine, vinegar, bay leaves, juniper berries, pepper and chili in a pan
- Set over heat, bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes
- Let cool down
- Place the meat in a bowl. Add marinade. Marinate for 2-4 days in the refrigerator. Turn meat 1-2 times a day.
Making the Sauerbraten
- Take meat out of the marinade, blot dry. Rub with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C
- Set large ovenproof pan over high heat. Add clarified butter. Sear the meat and brown well from all sides. Remove from pan.
- Reduce heat. Add chopped onion, cook until golden brown. Add garlic, celery, apricot, carrot, about one third of the raisins, allspice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the marinade to the pan, bring to a boil, cook for ca. 5 minutes. Return meat to the pan. Cover and place in the pre-heated oven.
- Cook for about 90-120 minutes.
- Remove from oven, remove meat from pan.
- Strain the liquid into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook uncovered to reduce.
- Add remaining raisins. Whisk in sour cream and tomato paste
- If necessary and desired, thicken with a bit of cornstarch slurry (optional).
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
- Cut the meat into thin slices. Serve with the sauce.
Serve with potato dumplings, spätzle or pasta and a vegetable like green beans, peas or braised red cabbage.
Preparation time: A few days (includes marinating the meat).
Yields 6-8 servings
This recipe got its main inspiration from a few phone calls to my Mom, asking her about recipes for Sauerbraten and Kartoffelklöße.
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