Sauerbraten, meaning “sour roast” or “pickled meat”, is a German dish. This is a German pot roast that can be prepared with a variety of meats—most often beef, but also from venison, lamb, mutton, pork, and traditionally, horse.Before cooking, the cut of meat is marinated for several days (recipes vary from three to ten days) in a mixture of vinegar or wine, water, herbs, spices and seasonings.
Resently, a major contributor to a group I belong to on FaceBook (Perth Amboy (NJ) We Love Food Group), Lisa Schmid-Manno, lost her beloved husband Chef Nick Manno after a long illness. Many of Nick’s recipes are posted on the group’s page and I wanted to do something in his honor. As the group knows, Chef Nick had a passion for food prep and creation. In his memory and as an honor of his passion for his delicious meals I found an appropriately themed Slavic recipe, sauerbraten which is a German dish.
Sauerbraten is “sour roast,” a traditional German recipe made by marinating then braising a big hunk of meat in vinegar and spices. The vinegar isn’t just used for a sour zing; it also tenderizes the meat. Bottom round is commonly used for sauerbraten, but any less-expensive cut of meat, including wild game like venison, can be tenderized by a soak in vinegar.
Sauerbraten takes this to an extreme, soaking the meat for 3 to 5 days. It takes this long for vinegar to tenderize a large roast all the way through and give the meat sauerbraten’s signature vinegary flavor – the longer marinating of the meat acts to tenderize it resulting in a finished dish that is tender, soft, and juicy. The ingredients of the marinade vary based on regional styles and traditions throughout Germany.
Traditionally, sugar or even gingersnap cookies are whisked in at the end, turning the sauerbraten braising liquid into a sweet and sour sauce. This less-sweet but still tasty version throws in a few dates for sweetness, leaving the option of additional sugar (or some sour cream) up to you.
As tender as it is, this meat holds together in slices, especially after the cooked roast has been refrigerated overnight. Sauerbraten is great the first day but even better as leftovers.
Sauerbraten is regarded as one of the national dishes of German. It is one of the best known German meals. Because of German immigration to the New World (the United States, Argentina, etc.) it is frequently found on the menus of German-style restaurants outside Germany. Several regions’ variations on the dish are well known, including those from Franconia, Thuringia, Rhineland, Saarland, Silesia, and Swabia.
Sauerbraten is traditionally served with traditional German side dishes, such as Rotkohl (red cabbage), Knödel or Kartoffelklöße (potato dumplings), Spätzle (an egg and flour noodle), and boiled potatoes. While many German-style restaurants in America pair potato pancakes (either Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen) with sauerbraten, this is common only in a small part of Germany.
- 4-6 lb Bottom Round Roast (Rump works too)
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 large onion, rough chopped
- 1 bulb of garlic, cut in half (don't need to peel it)
- 1/4 cup pickling spice
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- Bring all marinade ingredients to a boil. Let cool.
- Put the roast in a large marinade bag (2 gallon ziploc works great).
- Pour in cooled marinade, remove as much air as possible, seal & put in fridge.
- Massage & turn every day for at least 4 days, 7 days max.
- Remove roast from marinade, pat dry.
- Season with salt & pepper.
- Heat a dutch oven & add 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Brown roast on all sides.
- Add marinade to the pot, bring to a boil.
- Cover & put in a 300 degree oven. Roast for 4 hours, or until tender.
- Remove roast, strain marinade & tighten with a corn starch slurry, or a roux,
- If desired, tighten with 1/2 cup of finely crushed gingersnaps.
- Brown roast on all sides, put in crock pot with marinade & cook on low for 10 hours.