Sauerbraten is a wonderful beef dish from Germany (although I'm not exactly sure which region). Before starting this recipe however, make sure you have lots of time. This is not a simple dish to prepare and it will take several hours one all the main ingredients are ready.
Step 1: The meat
Now here in Germany this dish is so popular I can usually go to the butcher and just ask for a Sauerbraten and it is already prepared for you. If you live outside of Germany, which most of you do, then you will probably have to prepare this part yourself. For this step you will want the following ingredients:
1 Beef Roast approximately 500g to 1kg (yeah that is a lot of meat, my recipe is targeted to the 1kg size)
1 to 2 liters White Vinegar (enough to cover the meat completely).
Herbs, and spices to taste (typically used are Laurel Leaves, Coriander, Pepper Corns, Paprika pepper pieces (finely diced), mustard seeds, caraway seeds) You can use whatever spices you want in the pickle that you think will make the beef taste good.
Place the meat in a container that seals tightly, and pour in the vinegar over until it is just covering the meat. Then add the herbs, and spices. Cover and seal the container and place in your refrigerator from between 24 to 72 hours (the longer the better). This will pickle the meat which will give it the meal its distinct sour note (Sauerbraten would translated directly to "sour roast").
Step 2: The Other Ingredients
Now after you've let your meat pickle for a couple of days you are ready to cook it. For this you will need the following:
3 to 4 small white onions (cut in to 1/8ths)
4 to 5 normal carrots (cut into chunks)
60g to 120g Ginger Bread
Some oil to brown the meat.
Note about the Ginger Bread:
Typically here in Germany we can go to the store and buy special ginger bread for putting in our sauces. This may not be the case where you live. If this is not the case where you live you can use just about any type of Ginger Bread. The reason you use ginger bread is so that the sauce doesn't become too sour. Since the base of the sauce is in fact the pickle juice that you used to pickle the meat it would be very sour without a little ginger bread to lighten the flavor.
Step 3: The Process
Take the meat from the pickle and rinse lightly under running water. KEEP THE PICKLE JUICE!! Heat oil in a pot (big enough to hold the meat and the pickle juice and other ingredients so that the pickle juice is covering most of the meat). Brown the meat in the hot oil so that all sides are evenly browned. Remove the meat and add the carrots and onions. Stir fry these quickly and then reintroduce the meat. Next pour in the pickle juice and stir around so that the meat is mostly covered by the juice. Bring to a boil, and then cover the pot and reduce the heat. Cook this way for 1 hour (stirring occasionally). After about an hour add some of the ginger bread and some red wine (amount is really up to you, I normally add about 125 ml). Stir it in and cover and allow to cook for another 30 to 45 minutes. After this time you can sample the sauce, if it is still too sour then add more ginger bread. Once you've got the sauce to taste right to you, then remove the meat from the post and set aside. With a sieve strain the sauce (if you have other special sauce strainers then use those, we don't so we use a fine sieve). As you pour the sauce through the sieve you will notice it will get clogged (from all the stuff floating in it naturally). When this happens use a spoon, to remove spices (laurel leaves, peppercorns, etc.) and mush the rest through (carrots, onions, herbs, etc.) this will make a nice thick sauce. You can refine the sauce a little more with a little Creme Fraisch if you so desire.
Finally cut the meat into slices, and pour the sauce into a sauce pot (I have no idea what those fancy things for gravy are called anymore).
Serve with Rotkraut and Dumplings (see my other recipes on Yum! to see how to make those).