Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Hawthornes Embark On A Sauerbraten Journey.


Sauerbraten is one of those dishes
I've always heard about but have never made.
I'm out to change that today.

And I have a challenge for my readers.
Is there a dish out there you've heard about,
but you've never tried and always wanted to?

I don't think I've even made bouef bourguignon,
so that one's on my to-do list.

What about you?

Or if you'd like me to research a specific dish 
you've been wanting to try
and make it for you so you can cyber-vicariously enjoy it,
I'd be more than happy to.
That's what Rosie loves doing.

Now, back to my sauerbraten.
Whenever I embark on a new recipe,
I research it.
I look at about a dozen or so recipes/versions;
I try to find out something about the history of the dish;
I try to get a feeling for the dish;
and then I pull everything together to make a Rosie Version,
but still make it accurate and true to the "original,"
not that there is an "original."

Sauerbraten is typically a German dish -
sauer for sour,
braten for roast meat -
a heavily seasoned pot roast, if you will;
although, its origins date back over 2000 years to Roman times,
when meat was preserved in red wine for transport
to Roman cities and settlements.
Supposedly, Julius Caesar sent amphoras filled
with wine-marinated beef over the Alps
to the newly founded Roman colony of Cologne.
Sauerbraten can be prepared with a variety of meats,
usually beef or venison,
but historically, horse figured in during the early years.

Before cooking,
the meat is marinated in a mixture
 of vinegar, wine, spices, seasonings, and aromatics
for several days.
This long marination results in a finished dish
which is pull-away tender, flavorful, and juicy.
The marinade ingredients vary,
based on regional traditions and styles throughout Germany.
As for the selection of the roast,
sauerbraten can be made with any type of roasting meat.
Generally, less expensive cuts are used -
rump roast or bottom round.

The roast is marinated, dried,
seared in oil, then braised with the marinade for 3-4 hours.

After the roast is cooked,
the marinade is strained and returned to a saucepan
where it is thickened with gingersnaps, flour, or cornstarch,
and sweetened with brown sugar and/or raisins,
sometimes tomato paste,
bringing body, a bit of sweetness, and flavor to the sauce

Ingredients for marinade

Bouquet Garni:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tsp cloves
4-5 bay leaves
(Mine are fresh.
For dried use 2 bay leaves.)
sprigs of fresh thyme
bunch of parsley

1 onion
1 leek
2 carrots
1 stalk celery

1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup water

My spices and herbs:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp juniper berries
1 tsp cloves
4-5 bay leaves
(Mine are fresh.
For dried use 2 bay leaves.)
sprigs of fresh thyme
bunch of parsley

Gather all in cheesecloth ..

...  and tie up in a bouquet garni.

For the aromatics:
1 onion
1 leek
2 carrots
1 stalk celery

Remember -
none of this is etched in stone.
Slice and chop the veggies.

Bouquet garni
Chopped veggies
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup water

Add liquids (vinegar, water, and wine) to the pan.
Drop in bouquet garni and aromatics.

Bring marinade to a boil and let cool completely.

4 pound bottom round

I love how the butchers always
hide the fat layer in the tray.

Trim off the fat.

Leave on a little fat for flavor.

When the marinade has cooled,
pour it over the roast,
cover, and refrigerate for 3-5 days.

Turn roast 2-3 times a day
so marinade reaches all crooks and nannies.

Pretty purple color.

After about 5 days of marinating,
I'm ready to cook my sauerbraten.

I meant the roast was marinating.
Not me.
Well, yeah.  Kinda.

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Remove meat from marinade.
Pat roast dry.
Let it come to room temperature.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat.
Add in about 2 TB each canola oil and butter.
Butter for flavor.
Oil to raise the smoke point.
Add roast in and sear on all sides.
Should be 6 sides.

Add marinade to Dutch oven.

Return meat to pan,
cover tightly,
and braise for 3-4 hours.

After the first hour,
Mr. Hawthorne came in and poured in about a cup of water.
After the second hour,
I came in and poured in a cup of wine.

My house smells wonderful
and this is pull-apart tender.

Pour marinade into a separate saucepan.

If you notice,
there are lots of goodie bits in the bottom of the pan.
Give it a pat of butter.

Then pour in 1/2 cup or so of red wine
to deglaze.

Let it reduce a bit to concentrate the flavor.

And as for the wines you use to cook with,
use a wine you would drink.
Never buy so-called "cooking wines."
Cook with a wine you'd drink
 since you're concentrating the flavors.

Marinade on left.
Red-wine reduction on right.

Add red-wine reduction to marinade.
Heat over low.

Strain marinade mixture.

 Discard solids.

 Return marinade to the pot.

I added in 2 handfuls of gingersnaps.

Reheat marinade/sauce.
The gingersnaps sort of dissolve,
thickening and enriching the sauce.

Slice meat.
Serve with sauce poured over top.

 Traditionally, sauerbraten is served with potato dumplings,
red cabbage, or spatzle.

Being untraditional,
I'm going with green cabbage, three potatoes, and an onion.

Sweet tater from my garden.
Red and russet potatoes from Food Lion.

Chop potatoes and add to saute pan with heated oil and butter.
Cook over low heat about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Add in one chopped onion and
a cup or so of shredded cabbage
and cook about 2 minutes.
Taste test.
Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.
Stir in 1 TB caraway seeds.

Guten Appetit!

Bottom line:
I'd rather fix my regular pot roast
with potatoes and onions and celery and carrots.

This was too heavy and rich for my simple tastes.


vera charles said...

Well, if you don't like it, send it to my house. It looks fantastic. My German grandma would be proud of you!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thanks, Vera. I liked it, but I like a simple pot roast even better. (Heh. I first wrote "butter" instead of "better.")