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Fourth of July Recipes: Sauerbraten

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I have an old Gagen family recipe for authentic German potato salad which has been passed down through my family and originated and was brought over from Germany to the United States by my great-great-grandmother.  I keep this recipe close to my heart, a carefully guarded family secret so I will not be sharing it with you BUT I have searched out and found one that is oh so close to mine.  In fact it is so similar that I truly believe that in a side by side taste test, you would not be able to discern the difference.  Ok well, of course I am SURE that mine is the best but only by the slightest of hairs! 😉

German Sauerbraten


  • 2 cups of vinegar, my personal preference for this recipe being cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 1/2 pounds rump roast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ginger snaps, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 cup sour cream


In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, water, brown sugar, spices, herbs, onion, carrots, and celery.  Heat this mixture, stirring frequently until it comes up to a gentle bubbling.  Do not let it come to a full boil!  Poke holes into the roast to allow the marinade to be really infused right into the meat.  Be sure to place the meat into some sort of bowl or pan that is not metallic as the metal will interact and react with the vinegar mixture and this will adversely affect the taste.  Pour the vinaigrette over the meat, cover with plastic wrap, and put into the refrigerator.  The roast remains, marinating in this vinaigrette solution for five days.  Once or twice a day for each of those days you need to turn the roast over to ensure that the entire roast is being infused with the marinade. 

Note:  If you are using a fairly small roast, you can place it in a zipper storage bag – use one of the large heavy duty freezer ones – and pour the marinade in the bag with it.  I would still place this into a bowl or pan just in case the bag leaks or you fail to seal it properly (now who would do a thing like that?…shifty eyes…whistling a little tune nonchalantly), however, I find it much easier to then just flip the bag around and over rather than having to unwrap, use something to turn the roast, and then rewrap.  I know, I know, it only saves a few little steps but hey every one counts right?  Oh and if you are a bit of a ummm klutz like me, I would suggest that you make sure to do your “turning of the zipper bag” over a sink or something.  Once again, not that I have any personal experience with this, but just imagining that seal releasing and a lovely sauerbraten-to-be landing on its errr rump on the kitchen floor.  Sorry, couldn’t resist! 😉

When it’s time to prepare dinner on the fifth day, remove the roast from the marinade and pat it dry gently with some paper towels.  Discard the bay leaf and peppercorns but reserve both the vegetables and the remaining liquid.  Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan, stock pot, or Dutch oven (must have a lid though!) and bring to medium high heat.   Sear the roast on all sides, about 1-2 minutes on each side.  Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved vegetables and 1 cup of the reserved liquid to the pan.  Cover the pot and simmer for an hour and a half.  Add more of the reserved liquid as necessary.

At this point, remove the roast from the pot and let it cool until more easily handled.  Do not discard the liquid in the pot as you will still need it!  Slice the roast into thick slices and return it to the pot of liquid, stirring in the ginger snaps and raisins (plump them first in a little boiling water).  Cover and simmer again for another 3o minutes.  Remove meat from the pot and place on a serving platter.  Stir sour cream gently into the liquid remaining in the pot and slowly heat until warm all the way through.  Do not overheat or allow to boil or it may curdle.  Serve and enjoy!  I like to have this with some of those nice broad egg noodles or some delicious German spaetzle to sop up the scrumptious sauce!


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