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Sauerbraten

In the late 50s, my mother lived in Mainz, West Germany. Her husband was an American army officer and stationed there. Along the Rhine, she nurtured a love for Hummel figurines, handmade felt puppets, and sauerbraten. This season brings back cozy memories of my mother and this all-out holiday dish.

Sauerbraten, meaning sour roast, is a German pot roast. Some may argue it is Germany’s national dish. It is no ordinary pot roast, Sauerbraten offers kitchen aromas of sweet, solstice comfort. It is rich and flavorful, a roast heavily marinated for days with wine, vinegar, and warm baking spices. It is cooked long and slow.

Gingersnaps are traditionally used to add flavor and thicken the sweet and savory gravy. Think of them as the tidings of comfort and joy. 

Serve this with braised red cabbage, milk-bread dumplings, or spätzle. You can find me enjoying sauerbraten with our 2019 Gentleman Farmer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ingredients

Equipment

Large Dutch oven

Ingredients

4 pounds chuck roast
1 ½ tablespoons Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lard or a mild oil
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly sliced
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 small head, about 4 ounces, celeriac, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
4-6 whole cloves
12 juniper berries
6 allspice berries
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
⅓ cup sugar
18 dark gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed

How To Make

1
Season roast with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, melt the lard or heat olive oil over medium heat. Add roast and brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Reserve roast on a plate or sheet pan. Do not clean or wipe the pot.
2
In the same pot, combine water, vinegars, wine, onion, leek, celeriac, bay leaves, cloves, juniper and allspice berries, mustard seed, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Simmer for ten minutes, and set aside to cool.
3
Place meat in a non-reactive container and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for three days, up to a week. If meat is not completely submerged, turn it over once a day.
4
After three days, preheat oven to 275ºF. Add meat and marinade to a large Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then cover, and place on the middle rack of the oven, and braise for 5 hours, until tender.
5
Remove meat and keep warm. Strain the liquid from the solids, pressing lightly on the vegetables. Discard the solids, and return the liquid to the Dutch oven. Add gingersnaps, whisking until thickened. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Slice meat and serve on a warm plate with the sauce.