Origin: European, German
Method: StovetopJump to Recipe
When I was living in England during a year abroad in college, I was not what I would call an adventurous eater. Living in Europe, I was able to travel to many different countries, and experience many different cultures. When I traveled, I did my best to try authentic dishes from the countries visited, as long as they were not too authentic, if you know what I mean. If only future me could have traveled back in time and informed naive me, the culinary wonders that I was missing.
When travelling through Germany, I quickly found my safe food: spaetzle. These egg dumplings had a homey feeling that reminded me of something my grandmother would make. Also, they went well with everything. I remember the look I received when I was visiting a friend in Germany and they asked what I would like to eat for dinner. I clearly remember proudly responding, 'I like trying authentic foods, can we have spaetzle?' Now I realize my request was probably akin to having a foreign guest over for dinner, and asking what they would like to eat only to have them respond, 'I want an authentic American meal, make me mashed potatoes.'
Over the years, I have definitely branched out in my love of Germanic cuisine but most meals still come with a heaping portion of spaetzle. One of the Germanic dishes that I have grown to love over the years is the Bavarian dish, sauerbraten.
Preparing the German Sauerbraten Recipe
Sauerbraten is considered to be one of Germany's National Dishes, and one of it's more famous culinary exports. It takes a bit of time to prepare, though the marinade does a lot of the work for you. Don't let the time to prepare this dish scare you off, as most of the time is hands off time while the meat marinates. Authentic sauerbraten, can be made with any tougher cuts of meat such as rump roast, bottom round of beef, veal, venison (the marinade does wonders in removing the gamy flavor), or if you are old school, horse, but we won't go there. For this recipe we used a 3 pound beef bottom round roast.
Prepare the sauerbraten marinade
Making the marinade for the saurbraten is the most labor intensive portion of the meal. After gathering the ingredients, dice the celery stalks, and slice carrots and onion. Keep the celery leaves as well.
Next remove the green leafy portion of the leeks and slice the thick stalk. It is a good idea to soak the leeks for a couple minutes, then rinse under water in a colander to remove any dirt.
Next smash the juniper berries and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, or if you do not have one, use a spoon to crush them in a sturdy bowl.
Add all of the veggies, herbs, and seasonings into a stock pot or dutch oven.
You have been working hard, so pour yourself a glass of wine, then pour the rest into the pot. Add in the red wine vinegar at this time, as well. Stir well to combine. Bring the contents of the dutch oven to a brief boil then simmer for about 15 minutes. Next remove from the burner and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
When the mixture is fully cooled, add the meat to the marinade, making sure it is completely submerged. If you need to add a small amount of cold water to make sure the meat is fully submerged you can do that.
Marinating the German Sauerbraten: Longer is better
Cover the dutch oven and place in the fridge to marinade and develop its flavor. Authentic sauerbraten may be left to marinade as long as 2 weeks to develop its flavor. We let this one marinade for 5 days, flipping the meat every day. We highly recommend going at least 4 days in the marinade.
Finishing the German Pot Roast
On the day you wish to cook the sauerbraten, remove the meat from the dutch oven and pat it dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Strain the marinade into a large bowl. You may wish to reserve the veggies for cooking as a side dish, or you can discard them if you wish.
In a skillet or cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and brown the roast, about 2 minutes per side.
When the meat is nicely browned, remove it to a plate or pan.
Add 1 tablespoon of lard (or 2 strips of chopped bacon) and warm until lard is melted or bacon is browned. Next, stir in the raw onion and saute until nicely browned.
Return the meat and the strained liquid to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer the German sauerbraten for 1.5-2 hours, covered, until the meat is tender. This is typically around an internal temp of around 200 degrees. It is better to cook the meat to temp or tenderness than to just rely on time. Flip the meat halfway through the cooking time.
When the meat is done cooking, remove it to a cutting board and cover with foil to rest while you work on finishing the dish.
Add the 1 cup of crushed ginger snaps and 1 tablespoon of cranberries to the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil for about 3 minutes. Finally, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened (about 5 minutes more), stirring frequently.
Serve your Authentic German Sauerbraten
Traditionally the German Pot Roast is served along with spaetzle and a traditional red cabbage called rotkohl. To serve, slice the meat, top with sauce and serve along with your chosen sides. For us spaetzle is a must, be we also included some red cabbage sauerkraut to round out the meal. If you need a dessert check out our German Black Forest Cheesecake.
For more great Bavarian dishes be sure to try our Smoked German Beer Cheese Sauce, Authentic Wiener Schnitzel: Viennese Veal Cutlet, Bavarian Beer Pretzels, German Beef Rouladen, and Authentic Schwenkbraten: German Swinging Pork.
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- Dutch oven or large pot
- 3 lbs Beef Roast
- 1 Leek sliced, dark leafy part removed
- ½ Yellow Onion
- 2 Celery Stalks sliced, along with leaves
- 2 Carrots sliced
- 2 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
- 2 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 3 Garlic Cloves sliced
- 10 Juniper Berries smashed
- 10 Peppercorns smashed
- 6 Whole Cloves
- 1 cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 bottle Red Wine preferably German
Finishing the dish
- 1 cup Ginger Snaps finely crushed
- ½ Onion thinly sliced
- 1 Tab Dried Cranberries
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preparing the marinade
- Dice the celery stalks, and slice the carrots and onion. Reserve the celery leaves as well.
- Lightly smash the juniper berries and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, or with a spoon.
- Rinse the sliced leeks well, under running water to remove any dirt.
- Place all of the veggies, herbs and seasonings into a dutch oven or large pot, along with the red wine vinegar.
- Pour in the bottle of wine, minus about a glass worth which you should now enjoy. If you are not a wine drinker you can add the whole bottle.
- Stir well to combine, and bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and cool the mixture to room temp. Add in the roast, making sure it is completely covered. Add a little additional water, if needed, to just cover the meat.
- Place the dutch oven in a refrigerator and marinade the roast for 5 days (see note).
Finishing the dish
- Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
- Strain the marinade into a large bowl, reserving the veggies if you want to cook them for later, or discard them.
- In a skillet or cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat and brown the roast, about 2 minutes per side.
- When browned, remove the meat to a plate, add 1 tablespoon of lard (or 2 strips of chopped bacon) and warm until lard is melted or bacon is browned, then stir in the onion and saute until nicely browned.
- Return the meat and liquid to the pot and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1.5-2 hours until the meat is tender (typically around an internal temp of 200 degrees), flipping halfway through.
- When meat is cooked, remove the meat to a cutting board and cover with foil to rest.
- Add the 1 cup of crushed ginger snaps and 1 tab of cranberries to the sauce and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes, then reduce to simmer and cook until thickened (about 5 minutes more), stirring frequently.
- Slice the meat, top with sauce and serve along with spaetzle and other chosen sides.
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