It's a German saying that eating sour foods makes one happy. Not sure where the notion comes from. It's a fact the Germans are often unhappy and need a lot of cheering up, considering the grey weather this time of year....Of course, everyone in the US knows about Sauerkraut. My children hate it. I have tried and tried. They are not being good little Germans. But maybe that's partly because the stuff they sell in the stores in the US is nothing like German Sauerkraut. It's way too sour! Some day, if I have the time, I'll get to the bottom of it. Some day I will try and make my own Sauerkraut.
Then there is Sauerbraten. Have you ever had a German Sour Roast? I am glad to report that this is a dish my children very much appreciate. The announcement of a Sauerbraten will bring smiles and shouts of joy. Figures, since it takes about a week to make it...We cooked up a really nice roast this weekend. Making Sauerbraten takes a bit of planning ahead. First I had to remember to take the meat out of the freezer. It took about 2-3 days to thaw it out. Next I had to make a marinade for soaking it. Unlike my husband who claims that Germans bury the meat in the yard for 3 weeks to rot it and cook it afterwards, this is NOT TRUE!
This is how it's done:
you will need
- a nice piece of beef, a roast about 1-3 pounds (we like to get a big one, the leftovers are yummy!)
- 2 medium sized onions
- 1 large carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 5 peppercorns
- bay leaf
- 5 dried juniper berries (optional)
- 4-5 tablespoons flour
- red wine vinegar
- ginger cookies (optional)
Chop an onion, peel a carrot and dice it, and cut a stalk of celery . Throw the vegetables in a saucepan together with 250ml of red wine vinegar, 500 ml of water, add bay leaf, and some peppercorns. If you can find them, add some juniper berries. Heat this mixture to right before boiling temperature. This is the marinade that you pour over the roast.
I like to put the meat in a big Ziploc bag and put the marinade in the bag. Then you keep the Ziploc bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 days - depending on how sour you like your roast.
Cooking the roast:
After the meat has been properly soured take it out of the bag. Don't throw out the marinade. Put it through a sieve and throw away the vegetables. You must reserve the liquid because you will need it for cooking the roast later on!
Dry the meat with a kitchen towel or clean cloth. I don't use paper towels because I find it wasteful. ( Don't be an Umweltschwein! as we say in German).
After you patted the meat dry put some oil in a pot and heat it up. Now you must sizzle the meat, brown it nicely on all sides. It's best to use a pot that is tall. I use a heavy stockpot. Otherwise you may get splattered with the hot sizzling oil. Next you add some chopped up onions. Don't worry about dicing the onion small. The meat will cook for quite a while. By the time it's done cooking the onions will have disappeared. After the meat is browned properly on all sides add 375ml of the marinade back to the pot. If the roast is not covered add more water to the pot.
Now you need patience. The roast needs to cook very slowly on a low temperature. Don't boil it! You can add more of the marinade or water as the liquid cooks away. Keep checking the roast for softness. After about an 1.5 - 2 hours it should be getting close... Add a couple of hand fulls of raisins. If you have some gingerbread cookies break them up and add them to the pot, too. I rarely do have them. So it's fine without. Once the meat is nice and tender take it out of the pot. Mix a few tablespoons for flour (3-4) with some of the liquid from the pot. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and add the flour mixture in to thicken the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed.
All that is left to do is to slice up the roast and serve it on a warm platter. We serve it with Spatzle, German egg noodles made from scratch. What the heck. You might be bored while waiting for that meat to get cooked. Why not start another huge project and mess up the kitchen some more?