(Recipe #10, pages 77 – 78)
The best cut for sauerbraten is a good, fatty piece of the round or thick flank. After rinsing marinate it in malt vinegar, which is particularly suited to sauerbraten and is preferable to white vinegar—3–4 days in summertime, 8–10 in wintertime. But do not use the vinegar straight from the bottle; the meat will be milder and tastier if the vinegar is brought to a boil with seasonings and poured boiling over the meat. If the vinegar is highly acid, dilute it with a little water.
For a cut weighing 4–6 pounds, count on using 4 bay leaves and 8 nutmegs. Since onions harden in vinegar, wait to add them until you begin cooking the meat. To keep the meat from acquiring an unpleasant off-taste, in the summer the meat must be kept in a cool place with good air circulation, in a meat safe or covered with a screen cover.
Turn the meat frequently, but avoid the bad habit of using your hands.
To make the meat juicier, lard it as follows before cooking: cut rather thick lardons about 1½ inches long and toss them in a mixture of ground salt, pepper, and allspice; using a sharp knife, cut slits everywhere in the meat, insert the lardons, and sprinkle a bit more salt over the meat; do not oversalt it, since a large amount of salt makes it tough. Then heat a generous amount of good quality fat in an iron pot just large enough to hold the meat until it begins to brown, place the meat in the pot uncovered, and let the resulting broth evaporate quickly.
Brown the meat well on all sides by moving it back and forth and turning it in the hot fat; this requires some attention. Then sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of flour into the fat and let it brown as well. Then pour enough vigorously boiling water alongside the meat to cover it and quickly cover the pot to prevent the vapor from escaping.
For a roast weighing 5–6 pounds, after a few minutes add two small carrots, 3–4 medium-size onions, and some dark rye bread crust. If the sauerbraten is not sour enough, also add the spiced vinegar in which it marinated. Cover the pot, weight the cover with 2 irons, and braise the meat slowly without interruption for 2–2½ hours, turning it once. Lift the meat out occasionally (without piercing it) and if necessary add some boiling water.
A cup of sweet cream added for the last half hour makes the gravy very tasty.
To serve, place the sauerbraten on a heated dish and set it in the oven until the gravy has been made. If the gravy has been overly reduced and become too thick, thin it with water; if it is not thick enough, add a bit of flour. If it is too sour and is brown enough, a cup of milk would be a good addition. Then pass it vigorously through a metal strainer, bring it to a boil quickly, and pour some of it over the meat, passing the remaining gravy separately.
Note: If the sauerbraten is intended primarily for sandwiches, keep the gravy short and not too thick.
Translated by David Green.