Good Morning Folks!!!
Glad to be here. I am sure you know that we were caught very unprepared down here in the south by that storm last week. I was fortunate to have gotten out of the path in time to make it home where it was safe and warm. The normal 1 hour drive home took 3.5 hours (1 hour of it getting from the office to the I 285 expressway). I count my self lucky to have gotten home. I had some family, friends and clients that had much longer drive times, some that had to leave their cars and seek shelter…it was bad! It’s a good thing it only happens once every 4 to 6 years here, we just don’t have the equipment to do a good job of it here. All that being said, there is no place I would rather live unless it’s Bora Bora…LOL.
So in homage to snowpocalypse 2014, I decided to make my favorite German mom dish, Sauerbraten. We would have this on special occasions and being this is a mom recipe it has taken a little bit of “discovery” on my part in order to get it right! Most of you may have had a mother that was an excellent cook, the food they prepared was almost magical but they never followed a recipe…..a pinch of this and a dash of that until it tastes right. Works great in the kitchen but in the recreation that style leaves a bit to be desired. Mother passed a while back, she did take the time to start teaching me how to make most of what she cooked and for that I am grateful. Cooking with mom was a challenge because she would stand right next to me ready to take over if she felt I was not doing it right…..it’s the German in her, perfection at all times!
So let’s talk about the prep and the method of cooking this dish.
I will start by telling you that prep for this meal starts 3 day before you cook it. The marinade is put together and the roast is placed in it and left for 3 days, if the roast was not fully covered in the marinade you will need to turn it a couple of times each day to get it totally immersed. Since this is to marinate for so long you need to be sure you have room in the refrigerator to have the large pot in it. Always keep your marinade below 40° for the entire time the roast is in it. This goes for any dish that you have to marinate……Meat, fish, poultry will start to grow harmful bacteria above 40° so be mindful of that, an evening at the emergency room is not a good end to a fabulous meal!
Always marinate in a non reactive dish, the acids and salts can breakdown many metals and plastics which will contaminate your food. If you use a plastic container be sure it is food grade plastic or use a zip lock bag.
A good explanation can be found here:
2 to 5 lb Chuck roast (this is great with a venison or pork roast)
Here is your Marinade:
2 to 3 cups Vinegar (cider vinegar or red wine vinegar is optional)
3 to 5 cups Water
1 Medium Onion quartered
3 to 4 Celery tops (the leafy part)
3 to 5 large Carrots sliced
1 ½ tbsp Pepper corns
1 Clove per pound
1 tbsp Kosher salt
2 bay leaves
12 juniper berries (optional) ((if you cannot find the juniper berries substitute 1 ½oz of Gin))
For this cook I boiled the marinade for about 5 minutes and set it aside to cool before placing the Roast in it and putting it in the Refrigerator. I had enough liquid to cover the roast so I only turned it once a day
So we jump ahead. You are going to need:
Bacon Drippings (vegetable oil or olive oil can be substituted)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
6+oz of Ginger snaps
1 tbsp butter
½ cup all purpose flour
Assuming your meat has been in the marinade for the requisite 3 days you will now need to “cook it”. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper it on all sides. Heat about 2 Tbsp. of bacon drippings in a pan large enough for your roast and brown on all sides. While you are getting the roast ready go ahead and put the marinade in the pot your going to cook the Sauerbraten in and add in 1/3 cup of brown sugar start to bring it to a boil. Once you have gotten the roast browned ( it should only take a few minutes) return the roast to the marinade and boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 2 to 3 hours OR you can preheat the oven to 325° and cook for 4 hours. I have made this in a slow cooker by cooking it on high for 2 hours and then finishing the cook on low for 6 hours. So now you have options…..No I have not cooked it on the smoker….BUT…. who knows it might be great LOL.
So now we have almost reached the end……we need to thicken the gravy/marinade BUT first a few words about using the marinade for the gravy.
By the time you have gotten to this point the marinade has been boiled for over 10 minutes, then kept at a high temp for anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, this should be plenty of time to kill any food born bacteria that may have developed. IF this is a great concern for you then I suggest that some time during the cooking phase of the meal makeup a second batch of the marinade ingredients to use to make the gravy.
Back to the finish…..Once you have gotten the roast done remove it from the pot(it should almost fall apart) you will need to strain the marinade and start the process of turning it into gravy. If you have a food mill this is somewhat an easy process. Since I have only needed to do this procedure with Sauerbraten, I have not bought one. I use a good strainer and wooden spoon (mom’s way) to push the solids (the onion,carrots and celery,ETC) through back into the liquid in the pot. Throw the solid mush away. Add the crushed 6 o.z of gingersnaps to the liquid and return it to a boil then reduce the heat to low while you get the roux ready.
I take the butter and melt it in a pan over med heat and start adding small amounts of flour to it stirring constantly, AND I do mean constantly, one pause and it will burn. If you think it is too hot reduce the heat. What you are looking for is the flour to start to turn light brown as you cook it. Once you like the color remove the pan from the heat and remove the flour from the pan to keep it from over cooking. Add this to the marinade and this will start to thicken the marinade into gravy. The gravy should be runny thick not clumpy, if it get too thick it will start to turn solid and you will need to add water to thin it. Best to UNDER add the roux than to OVER add the roux.
Once this is done you can either add the roast back to the gravy till you are ready to serve or just slice the meat and keep it warm till meal time.
This is, in my house, generally served with the braised red cabbage, called blaukraut which will be posted later in the week, and potato dumplings (potato balls), whipped or mashed potato’s can be a good substitute and a endive lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing.
This is a wonderful dish, I hope you will give it a try. Look for the blaukraut post coming up and I will be posting the potato dumplings later in the spring.
Take care, see you next Monday!