Friday, 8 January 2010

Warming Winter Food

Wednesday afternoon was another winter wonderland scene outside, with everything covered in snow from the night before, and more fat snowflakes coming down. I haven't seen this much snow since the first winter I was in England. Today when I ventured out it felt cold and crisp like a Canadian winter. Brrr.

This recipe for Sauerbraten is just the kind of warming food one needs on a cold winter's day. I had never had sauerbraten before, but D said the taste reminded him of a beef stew he had on a family trip to somewhere like Austria or Romania when he was a kid.

Recipe from The Time-Life Holiday Cookbook, 1976.

Serves 6 to 8.

4 lb. boneless beef roast, preferably top or bottom round or rump, trimmed of fat

For the marinade:
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
2 c. cold water
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
5 black peppercorns
4 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 t. salt

3 T. lard
1/2 c. finely chopped onions
1/2 c. finely chopped carrots
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
2 T. flour
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. gingersnap crumbs

To make the marinade:
Crush the peppercorns and juniper berries coarsely with a mortar and pestle.
In a 2- to 3- quart saucepan, combine the wine, wine vinegar, water, sliced onion,
peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves and salt. Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat, then remove it from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the beef in a deep crock or a stainless-steel or enameled pot just large enough to hold it comfortably, and pour the marinade over the meat. The liquid should come at least halfway up the sides of the meat. If necessary, add more wine. Turn the meat in the marinade to moisten it on all sides. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days, turning the meat over at least twice a day.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it completely dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve set over a bowl and reserve the liquid. Discard the spices and onions.

In a heavy 5-quart flameproof casserole, melt the lard over high heat until it begins to splutter. Add the meat and brown it on all sides, turning it frequently and regulating the heat so that it browns deeply and evenly without burning. This should take about 15 min. Transfer the meat to a platter, and pour off and discard all but about 2 T. of fat from the casserole. Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the fat in the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 5 - 8 min, or until they are soft and light brown. Sprinkle 2 T. of flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 or 3 min longer, or until the flour begins to color. Pur in 2 c. of the reserved marinade and 1/2 c. of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Return the meat to the casserole. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Transfer the meat to a heated platter and cover with foil to keep it warm while you make the sauce.

Pour the liquid left in the casserole into a large measuring cup and skim the fat from the surface. You will need 2 1/2 c. of liquid for the sauce. If you have more, boil it briskly over high heat until it is reduced to 2 1/2 c; if you have less, add some of the reserved marinade. Combine the liquid and the gingersnap crumbs in a small saucepan, and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 10 min. The crumbs disintegrate in the sauce and thicken it slightly. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard with a wooden spoon to force as much of the vegetables and crumbs through as possible. Return the sauce to the pan, taste for seasoningand let it simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

To serve, carve the meat into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and arrange in overlapping layers on a platter. Moisten the slices with a few tablespoons of the sauce, and pass the remaining sauce separately in a sauceboat.

Serve with dumplings or boiled potatoes and red cabbage.

Sauerbraten may also be cooked in the oven. Bring the casserole to a boil over high heat, cover tightly and cook in a preheated oven at 350 F/175 C for about 2 hours.

I think that this would be even better made with some of the less tender cuts of meat, such as beef shin, that would benefit from the marinating and long cooking time.

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