Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sauerbraten (p. 478) and Potato dumplings (kartoffelklosse) (p. 335)

I stumbled upon a boneless beef roast for a decent price at the grocery store and thought I would make Sauerbraten (p. 478). Josh loves of Germany and I thought he would enjoy eating a (TJOC-version of a ) German meal.

I heated white vinegar, water, onion, bay leaves, peppercorn, and sugar in a pot:

I poured the marinade over the beef in a casserole dish and popped it in the refrigerator, where it sat, getting turned occasionally, for 4 days.

After the fourth day, I drained the marinade off of the meat, and browned the meat in a little vegetable oil. I then cooked it like beef pot roast. When the meat became "tender" (honestly, I didn't think it ever got particularly tender), I sprinkled brown sugar on top of the meat (it was less a "sprinkle" and more a "slather".

I cooked the meat for about ten minutes more and then removed the meat to a container (not a platter, we weren't doing anything fancy for dinner):

I was left with this:

I wanted to thicken the gravy but I didn't want it to be lumpy, so I added a little of the cooking liquid to the flour and then mixed it in:

I added sour cream to the gravy. And it was done! I sliced meat, poured gravy on the top, and put it on top of some riced potatoes (fortunately, I had some potatoes left over after the potato dumpling debacle that follows):

I didn't like it.

I didn't like it at all.

It's very possible I just don't like sauerbraten. I don't know--I've never had it before. It was certainly sour. I REALLY disliked the sweet sugary gravy and the meat was still tough. I won't be making this recipe again. Josh thought it was less horrible than I did but he didn't think it was very good either. For those of you who have eaten sauerbraten before, what is it supposed to be like?

I thought that I should make Potato dumplings (kartoffelklosse) (p. 335) to go with the sauerbraten since TJOC insists it's traditional. The recipe looked fairly simple, even though I'd never made dumplings before.

I boiled potatoes and riced them in to a bowl. I added two eggs (make sure the potatoes are cold at this point or you will end up with potatoes with chunks of cooked egg sprinkled throughout), flour, and salt:

I formed them in to balls and then dropped them in boiling water.

They totally disintegrated. Honestly, this is what was left of my potato dumplings:

While re-reading the "About Dumplings" section (or, perhaps, reading it for the first time), I now notice that it says not to let the water boil but simply keep the water at a light simmer. I'm pretty sure that was my main problem. I really can't judge this recipe since it was a complete disaster. I should probably try it again (we will see, I'm not very motivated to make it again, and I'm counting it off the list). If someone wants to do a guest post using this recipe, I would totally be up for it.

This brings to mind a question--When a recipe fails, probably due to something I did, should I still count it off or should I have to make it again? I would love to know your opinion on this.

Add to Technorati Favorites


  1. I think you should make it again - at least the dunplings. Dumplings are great! And you didn't even get to try these ones :)

  2. For me sauerbraten is a family recipe, I've had it many times for holiday meals and even in Germany. TJOC's recipe is very close to what I grew up with and had in Germany. My grandmother's version wasn't as sour or sweet as the recipe in TJOC, and she was able to cut it into slices, can be sliced but tends to fall apart into lucious hunks. Both grandma and I use pressure cookers.
    Sauerbraten is an acquired taste so if you haven't grown up with it you may never like it, but I can make a few recommendations that will help make it more palatable for you.
    Think of Sauerbraten as a roast that has been marinated with a light sweet and sour flavor. I guess that in the days before refrigeration, it was a way to both tenderize otherwise tough cuts of meat and to extend its shelf-life.
    First, I recommend using less sugar than TJOC recommends, and only marinade overnight (4-days is for those who want it very strong - I like Sauerbraten, but I don't like it THAT strong). Overnight is the usual length for us.
    Cook as you have done (if you can borrow a pressure cooker -even better) for the gravy I woul make a roux of melted butter and flour and slowly add the juices to make a nice gravy. We never added sour cream to the gravy and neither di they do this in Germany. My friend would add gingersnaps to the gravy (also don't like).
    With regard to the potato dumplings, the first time I made them on my own I had the same exact problem. It's so upsetting. In the first place, a medium potato is a subjective measurement so you've got to have a feel for determining when you have a dough that will hold together. First, cook the potatos in their skins the night before (maybe boil them as you are preparing the Sauerbraten for it's marinade). The next day, when they are cool, peel and shred. Mix in the egg and flour such that it begins to hold together when you stir it. When rolling the dumplings make them 3.5 inch balls - press them flat on two side so they sit nicely on the plate. And roll them in flour before putting them in gently boiling water.
    Then before serving them, we always fry the dumplings in butter until they are
    golden brown. We would serve the sauerbraten with red cabbage (the stuff jarred in glass is close enough to home-made - I would bother doing from scratch. Boiled carrot slices in salt and butter is nice with it too.
    I hope you'll give it another go, and please let me know how you do.

  3. Don't give up on Sauerbraten just yet!!
    My JOC is the 1997 version and I used the recipe on p. 668.

    I've cooked it a couple of times and loved it, but it's one of the more difficult recipes I've tried.

    I noticed your ingredients departed a little from the recipe I have. It's possible these slight tweaks made a big difference.

    I'm just guessing about the roast you used, but I had a hard time finding an economical beef roast that wasn't already marinated or packaged in salt water. Since the recipe calls for a marinade for a couple of days, I think an unadulterated roast is essential.

    Here's the marinade the recipe in my book calls for:
    1 c. red wine vinegar
    1c. dry red wine
    2 bay leaves
    1 t. black peppercorns
    1t. caraway seeds
    1 oz. gin

    It seems much different than the ingredients you used. I personally don't care for white vinegar. I think the taste is too strong and overpowers anything else.

    I don't know if you have a "no-alcohol" policy, but the alcohol itself does something chemically to the meat that help the marinade infuse the meat better.

    I'd also go light on the sour cream and leave out the sugar, though it only called for 1 tablespoon. There's already enough sugar in the cookies. They won't make the sauce overly sweet, but will thicken it a tiny bit and balance the tartness. Same with the sour cream. It needs a little, but not the 3/4 cup it calls for unless you like it very creamy.

    Just making the roast is enough work for me- I just served it with bread, red cabbage and a salad. I skipped the dumplings and pancakes.

    If you ever make this dish again e-mail me! I'd love to know how it turned out.

  4. I had this meal the other night cooked by a dear friend who is from Germany. One of the best meals I have eaten! I adored the gravy, the meal was so tender and flavorful and the potatoes, topped with gravy, were divine. I ate so much I was too full for dessert!


I love comments! Please let me know what you think!

I'm really sorry, I hate comment moderation, but I've been getting annoying Japanese spam messages lately so...comment moderation has started.