Old Munich Sauerbraten

This sturdy delight formed the backbone of one of our most memorable dinner parties. We served it with potato pancakes, homemade apple sauce, sweet and sour red cabbage, and apple strudel, giving our guests the choice of Dos Equis, Mexico's magnificent amber beer, or Charles Krug's Zinfandel (uncorked a few hours before serving). Some guests had both! The trick is to marinate the meat a long time, at least 10 days, and turn it twice daily. The sauce that emerges from the pot after cooking is something your guests will be talking about for days.

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 cup vinegar, more if necessary
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 whole cloves
  • Bouquet garni of 4 bay leaves, 2 sprigs celery leaves, and 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 Juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 whole lemon, sliced

Meat

  • 1 bottom round roast of beef (about 5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1 eight-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 bouillon cube
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, more if necessary
  • 3 to 4 strips lemon peel
  • 5 gingersnaps, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • teaspoons arrowroot, approximately

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a porcelainenameled container. Add the meat and for best results marinate for 10 days, if not more. Turn twice daily.

When ready to cook, presoak a large clay pot, top and bottom, in water for 15 minutes.

Remove the meat from marinade, put in a large frying pan, and sear on all sides in the hot bacon fat. Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a saucepan and reduce to ⅓ its original volume by boiling rapidly, uncovered. Place the meat in the presoaked pot, then add the marinade and all the other ingredients except the arrowroot.

Cover the pot and place it in a cold oven.

Set the oven temperature at 425 degrees.

Cook for 2 to 2½ hours, until almost done, then remove the pot from the oven and pour off the sauce. Return the pot to the oven, uncovered, for a final 10 minutes of cooking.

Meanwhile, put the sauce into a blender container and blend.

Taste for seasoning; the sauce should be "sweet and sour." If not, add brown sugar and/or vinegar. Heat the sauce, thicken with the arrowroot, and serve over the meat and German potato pancakes.

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