Tonight we had one of Mike’s favorite foods of all time: Sauerbraten. I love it too, but have always been a bit afraid to cook it, since it involves three days of marinating and then lots of time cooking. I decided that I might as well give it a whirl though, and try it out in the crockpot instead of the oven. I really love my crockpot, you can get the food ready the night before, turn it on in the morning and come home to a delicious smelling house ready for you to eat! It’s like your own private chef, even though the chef was you, you just have a short attention span and forgot!!
Anyway, I had no idea what to do about sauerbraten, so I looked it up online and found a recipe from one of my favorite cooks, Mr. Alton Brown. You know it will be good because Alton makes everything better! I must tell you that he wanted me to cook it the real way, in the oven for four hours, but I changed it to work with the crockpot, which is an easy thing to do with almost any meal that needs to cook in the oven long like that. Anyway, here is the recipe!
Crockpot Sauerbraten (borrowed from Alton Brown!)
2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
12 juniper berries (I substituted whole Allspice because they don’t’ sell Juniper Berries in Syosset)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed
1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional ( I did not use these because raisins are gross unless they are in Irish Soda Bread)
Do this part on a Saturday or Sunday, when you are alert and have time! Then you can plan to eat it mid-week, when you are sleepy and have no time! In a large saucepan over high heat combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper, and mustard seeds. Cover and bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat; add the meat and brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (I must confess, I did not do this step. Why? Because I think that browning meat and leaving it half raw and then setting it in the fridge for three days in a half raw/half-cooked stage seems like an invitation for stomach pain, don’t you? Maybe there is a scientific reason why this doesn’t happen, due to all the vinegar or something, but the idea of it is scary so I avoided it!)
When the marinade has cooled, pour it into a zip top bag and add the meat. Place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.
After 3 days of marinating, get out the ol’ crockpot! Add the meat and marinade to the pot, along with the 1/3 cup of sugar. Stir, put on the lid and set it on LOW for 8-10 hours. Go to work and fend off small children with glue and scissors (well, if you’re me!)
When you get home, the house will smell like heaven! Remove the meat from the crockpot. At this point, you have two choices for making the gravy. You can strain the liquid out into another bowl and then put it back in the crock to make the sauce OR you can strain it out into a pot and make the sauce on the stove. I went for the stove option because it meant one less dish to wash. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps, but I didnt’ do that either, once through the strainer is plenty for me! Add the raisins if desired. Slice the meat and dunk it back in the sauce. Serve over egg noodles or with some kind of delicious potato. I also served red cabbage from a jar, because I can’t always be classy and that stuff is delicious!