Demo Kitchen Recipes: Sauerbraten

Demo Kitchen Recipes: Delicious German Sauerbraten

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The waning days of summer may induce melancholy in some; a wistful longing for warm days past, swimming pools, al fresco dining, and day drinking that lasts well into the tardy twilight and the eventual onset of a cicada and cricket filled night under the stars. For others it’s the happy start of football season, crisp weather, cider doughnuts, warm sweaters and day drinking that turns to night drinking, enrobed in a comforting blanket of darkness, before you know it.

But every right-thinking reveler and happy participant in the world's endless stream of holidays, celebrations and excuses to party should be happy for the seasonal bridge that is Oktoberfest. Whether you care about its matrimonial origins, the historic practice of guzzling last spring’s beer, brewed in March (Märzen), preserved over the summer months while brewing took a vacation, and consumed with gusto in anticipation of fresh beer from the nascent fall brewing season, matters not.

The only real question is- do you want to drink delicious beer, eat ridiculous quantities of traditional German fare, don a dirndl, luxuriate in lederhosen, rock some cowbells and act a fool? If so, my friends, Oktoberfest is for you whether you are longing for the bygone summer or barreling headlong into fall.

It’s time to load up on Märzen and Festbier, twist some homemade pretzels, fill the shopping list with mustard and kraut and bratwurst and make some classic German dishes. The Binny’s Demo Kitchen has posted quite a few over the years and here is another to consider- Sauerbraten, that beloved German braise of beef (usually) in a sweet and sour gravy. Does this recipe take a bit of time? Yes, but it is largely the inactive days of marinating that make this relatively simple dish seem so ambitious. Otherwise, it’s a piece of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, ja?

There is no time to waste on further verbose commentary, you have work to do. So, get to marinating, it will be worth it when you have your first bite of meltingly tender beef smothered in rich, warmly spiced, sweet and sour gravy, followed by a sip of Märzen. Serve sauerbraten alongside red cabbage and spaetzle or mashed or boiled potatoes.

In case you think us too vague, pair this with plenty of Märzen, or try a rich but focused Riesling Auslese. White wine may seem an odd choice but the depth and sweet/sour balance of a well-made Auslese will be revelatory in this context. A fruity German Spätburgunder can work if you insist on red and don’t forget a digestif like Underberg Bitters or even Jägermeister, you’ll likely need some.



  • 2½ cups dry red wine
  • 2½ cups red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 juniper berries, cracked
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. pickling spice
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar


  • 5 pounds beef roast (rump roast, chuck roast or top or bottom round)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole cloves


  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  • ½ cup white raisins, plumped in water
  • 6 ginger snap cookies, crumbled
  • lemon juice (optional)
  • honey (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed


  1. Stir all marinade ingredients together in a Dutch oven or nonreactive pot.
  2. Bring marinade to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Submerge the roast in the marinade, cover with the lid and marinate refrigerated for four days minimum, seven is better and it can go as long as 14. Unless the meat is completely submerged, turn the roast over once a day.


  1. Remove the roast from the marinade, pat completely dry with paper towels. Strain the solids from the marinade. Reserve the liquid and discard the solids.
  2. Rinse the Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Melt butter, add the bacon and fry until browned. Remove bacon to a small plate with a slotted spoon. Add the roast to the hot fat and brown deeply on all sides. Remove the roast and set aside.
  3. Add sliced onions to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Stir in tomato paste and cook a few minutes until it starts to deepen in color. Stir in a couple of cups of marinade, then return roast to the pot with bay and cloves. Add more marinade until it reaches halfway up the roast
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, cover and braise for 3½ to 4 hours until very tender. Add more marinade as needed to keep it halfway up the roast.
  5. When the roast is done, remove and transfer to a plate, tent it with foil to keep warm. Strain the gravy, skim any excess fat and return gravy to the pot over moderate heat.


  1. Meanwhile, when the roast is almost done, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add sugar and flour. Cook stirring until golden brown and caramelized. Be careful not to burn.
  2. Whisk roux and ginger snaps into gravy, increase heat and bring to a boil to thicken. Add raisins. Turn off heat when thick. Gravy can be made thicker at this point with a cornstarch slurry or thinned with a little water or stock if desired.


  1. Taste gravy for balance and seasoning. Add lemon, honey, salt and pepper, if needed, to create the desired sweet and sour balance.
  2. Slice rested roast and serve topped with hot gravy.

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