Sauerbraten is a very popular hearty German dish. Its origins have been attributed to the German hero Charlemagne in the 9th century as a way to use leftover roasted meats but this is pure conjecture. I grew up having sauerbraten for very special occasions--such as Christmas--and I have continued the tradition to this day. It is always a good winter dish.

Sauerbraten is prepared by marinating pot roast in wine and spices and refrigerating it for 3-5 days. The aroma of the cooking sauerbraten is mouthwatering and irresistible. Several traditional accompanying dishes are spaetzle (tiny dumplings), gingersnap gravy, and red cabbage. There are many variations for the sauerbraten and red cabbage and the recipes provided are a compilation from multiple sources.

3 lbs. rump roast 2 bay leaves
2 C red wine vinegar ½ t peppercorns, crushed
2 C hearty red wine 1 t juniper berries, crushed
1 C water pinch salt
2 stalks celery, chopped 2 T cooking oil
1 large package baby carrots
1 large onion, chopped

Place roast in a large deep bowl. Add vinegar, wine, water, salt, juniper berries, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days but not longer than 5. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Add 2 T cooking oil to Dutch oven and heat on medium high. Brown roast on all sides. Add onions, celery and carrots and cook about 5 minutes. Add the marinade and cover tightly. Simmer slowly for 2 – 3 hours or until tender. Strain the marinade. Slice the meat and serve with the carrots, red cabbage, spaetzle, and gingersnap gravy.

Gingersnap Gravy:
2 T sugar
2 C strained marinade
½ C water
2/3 C gingersnap crumbs

Heat sugar in pan slightly. Gradually stir in the marinade and water. Add gingersnap crumbs and stir until mix thickens. Makes 2 cups of gravy.

1 C milk
2 ½ C + 6 T flour
2 eggs
1 t salt

Add salt to flour; then add milk slowly, stirring constantly. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile bring a large pan of water containing several beef bouillon cubes to a boil. Pour dough into spaetzle maker and drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Cook 8 – 10 minutes.

Braised Red Cabbage
2 T butter
1 large diced onion
1 large red cabbage (about 2 ½ lbs.)
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1/3 C hearty red wine
¼ C brown sugar, firmly packed
6 juniper berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
¼ t whole cloves
2 – 4 T sugar
2 C thinly sliced pared tart apples
salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion in butter over medium high heat for 5 minutes, until softened. Add cabbage and toss gently until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, cover and cook until cabbage is dark and richly glaze--about 1 ½ hours.

Top off this dish with a good dark German beer and you're all set.

Photo: Mespelbrunn Castle in northern Bavaria dates back to the thirteenth century.


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