Region: Several regions boast local versions of the Sauerbraten including: Franconia, Rhineland, Saarland, Silesia, and Swabia.
The German word Sauerbraten consists of one adjective and a noun rolled into one word: sauer = eng.: sour or pickled + Braten = roast meat.
Apparently, the original receipt goes back as far as the 9th century when it was considered a leftover dish.
Even Julius Cesar may have been involved in this dish when he suggested that beef should be sent across the Alps while marinated in wine. We are not sure if all this is true.
In Germany, the traditional ingredient for Sauerbraten was horse meat with a marinade designed to soften the tough meat.
Today, however, horse meat is not commonly used anymore since horses are now not considered livestock but “recreational” animals.
Venison, Beef, Veal, even Pork and Turkey are nowadays used to prepare a “Sauerbraten”.
A true Sauerbraten is marinated in a spiced marinade for a long time. The more intense, or wilder in terms of taste and toughness your meat is, the longer is the marinating time needs to be.
Despite its regional variances, this dish is traditionally served with a spiced red cabbage and potato dumplings.
The objective of the side servings is to balance the sour taste of the meat and gravy with a sweeter side.
I have tweaked the traditional recipe onyl slightly.
I have probably reviewed 20 different Sauerbraten receipts to come up with this contemporary version.
Enjoy. I look forward to your feedback.
Serves: 4 Difficulty: Medium Preparation time: 4 days marinating the beef, 4 hours preparation time
For the Sauerbraten
- 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) beef roast
- 2 Medium Carrots
- 1 half of a medium sized celery
- Half a stem of leek
- 2 shallots or 1 onion
- 2 TBS clarified butter
- 2 medium bay leafs
- 4 cloves
- 1 TBS black peppercorns
- 8-10 juniper berries
- 200ml (6.8 fl oz) red wine vinegar
- 200 ml (6.8 fl oz) balsamic vinegar
- 350ml (8.5 fl oz) dry red wine
- 150 g (5.3 oz) gingerbread-the no chocolate kind, finely crumbled or chopped
- 2 slices of Pumpernickel Bread, finely chopped
- 4-5 TBS raisins
- 1 TBS maple Syrup or honey
- I TBS of red currant jelly
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) Cream and 2 TBS of (corn) starch
- 1 large freezer bag
For the glazed red cabbage
- 1 red cabbage (ca. 1 kg or 35 oz)
- 2 onions
- 2 TBS clarified butter or lard
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 200ml (7 fl oz) Red Wine
- 10 Tbs Apple Vinegar
- 3 Tbs Sugar
- Salt to season
- 2 apples with high acidity
- 3-4 Tbs Redcurrant Jelly
For the dumplings
- 300 g (10.5 oz) bread crumbs (ideally French croutons)
- 250 ml (or 1.cups and 2 TBS) full fat milk
- 3 Onions, very finely chopped
- 2 TBS Butter
- 3 TBS parsley, finely chopped
- 3 TBS of wild chives, finely chopped
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Dashes of: Nutmeg, freshly ground salt and pepper
Preparing the Sauerbraten:
- Clean and chop 2 medium carrots, 1 half of a medium celery, half a stem of leek, and 2 shallots (or 1 onion).
- 200ml (6.8 fl oz) of red wine vinegar, 200ml (6.8 fl oz) Balsamic Vinegar, and 350ml (8.5 fl oz) dry red wine into a cooking pot. Add 2 Bay leafs, 4 Cloves, 1 TBS black peppercorns, and 8-10 Juniper Berries and the vegetables. Bring to a boil and let softly boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Rinse meat, dry off and place into a large freezer bag. Add the cooled off marinade. Tie the bag with a double knot, put in a bowl and place in the fridge. Let meat marinade for at least 4 days turning the bag every day.
- After 4 days, remove meat from marinade pad dry with a paper towel. Pour liquid through a strainer. Keep the vegetable in the strainer
- Heat up 2 Tbs clarified butter in a large roasting pot. Add meat and give it a strong roast on each side. (Don’t let it turn black, though).
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add vegetable/spices mix from the strainer and fry for a minute or two.
- Add marinade and remove from heat. Add 150 g (5.3 oz) Gingerbread, and two slices if Pumpernickel Bread, both finely crumbled or chopped.
- Stir well.
- Place meat into sauce.
- Add lid to roasting pot and place in a preheated oven at 150°C or 300°F. Bake for 2.5 – 3 hours turning meet every hour. Should the sauce evaporate too much add a little bit of beef stock
- While the meat is roasting, prepare the red cabbage and the dumplings (refer to below instructions).
- After 2 hours, remove vegetables and spices form roasting pot using a skimmer, set aside
- Add 2-3 TBS Raisins or alternatively 2-3 TBS of dried Cranberries at let simmer for the remaining time.
- Remove pot from oven at the end of the time. Remove meat and keep warm. Poor marinade into a smaller sauce pan. Using a large cooking spoon, press the vegetables through a fine sieve into the sauce
- Combine 100 ml (1/2 cup) of cream and 2 TBS of starch and carefully stir ½ of the mixture into the sauce. Bring to a soft boil and assess the thickness of the sauce. Add more of the cream/starch mixture if too thin.
- Season with salt, pepper, and a choice of Maple Syrup / Honey / Redcurrant Jelly. I prefer redcurrant jam as it adds additional fruity taste. Remove any unwanted material like bay leaves. Keep warm with meat until ready to use.
Preparing the spiced red cabbage:
- Take 1 whole red cabbage (1 kg or 35 oz), remove outer leaves, and cut cabbage into quarters. Grate or cut the cabbage into fine strips. Peel the onion and cut into small strips or dices.
- In a large cooking pot, heat 2 TBS if lard or clarified butter. Glaze the onions and add the cabbage, Bay leaf, 1 Cinnamon stick, 200 ml (7 fl oz) red wine, 10 Tbs Apple Vinegar, 3 Tbs Sugar, and 2 TS salt.
- Let cook on low heat for 1 hour, occasionally adding water so it does not burn.
- Peel and pit the apples, cut into dices and add to red cabbage about 15 minutes before cooking time is over. Season with 3-4 Tbs red currant jelly and more sugar and vinegar if needed.
Warm serving plates
Preparing the dumplings:
- Heat 250 ml (or 1 cup and 2 TBS) milk and poor over 300 g (10.5 oz) bread crumbs (ideally French croutons) Let soak for 30 minutes.
- Peel and finely chop onions. Melt butter at medium heat and glaze onions until soft. Combine bread dough, glazed onion, 2 full eggs, 1 egg yolk, 3 TBS of finely chopped parsley and 3 TBS of wild chives. Season with salt, pepper, and nut meg.
- Knit dough well with your hand or with a blender until you have an even and malleable dough. Should the dough be too dry add more milk and continue to mix and season as appropriate.
- Rinse your hands with water and with wet hands form round dumplings larger that a golf ball and smaller than a tennis ball (somewhere in-between).
- Once all your dumplings are formed, place into salted boiling water. Remove from heat and let soak for 15 minutes or longer until dumplings float.
Serve 3-4 cut slices of the Sauerbraten with cabbage and dumplings on warmed plate. Decorate with chopped herbs. Burgundy red wine, Beaujolais Wine, even a Lager beer will accompany this dish well.