I don’t want to come off as judging a book by the cover or anything, but when someone calls a recipe “Quick This” or “Easy That” I expect it to be quick or easy. Preferably both. If I find it to be otherwise, I’m disappointed for sure. But before I throw the recipe away in a huff, I stop and ask myself whether the final dish was good. Because like a little black dress or sensible shoes, there’s always room for a good recipe.
I came to have a coworker’s family recipe for Sauerbraten. It’s specifically called Quick Sauerbraten. To my frame of reference, quick means fast. Quick means I can make it on a weeknight after work. Quick does not mean five hours of cooking. So I let this recipe just sit for the longest time. The first time I tried to make it, I didn’t fully grasp how long the process was. I didn’t leave myself enough time for all the cooking that it needed, and by the time our guests had arrived, our “Quick” Sauerbraten was nowhere near finished. We had pasta instead.
The second time I made this I didn’t pay enough attention to what was going on in the oven and all my juices evaporated, leaving me with dry meat and a scorched pot. We had pizza instead.
But as they say, the third time is the charm. The third time I was rewarded with fall apart tender meat and a rich, tangy, but not overly sour sauce. I learned the hard way to keep an eye on the pot and added about a can of vegetable broth (I would have preferred to use beef broth but there was none in the cupboard) over the last 90 minutes of cooking, reserving about a half cup of broth to mix with cornstarch to thicken the juices into a smooth sauce.
Through some searching around, I’ve also come to change my frame of reference for quick as far as Sauerbraten is concerned. Considering that many traditional recipes call for the beef to be marinaded for up to five days, I think five hours definitely qualifies as quick. While this may not be a weeknight go to meal, it has certainly found a place at our table as a weekend supper. And depending on how may folks are at the table, we’ve got leftovers to use for lunches (like I did above) or dinners that are super quick to pull together.
Call me crazy, but this is what we’re having for Thanksgiving dinner. So if you can’t find a turkey at the grocery store, don’t look at me.
Edna Siebert Utz’s Recipe as Shared by Phyllis Cook
- 3 to 4 pound chuck roast
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 whole peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can beef or vegetable broth, with 1/2 cup broth reserved
- 2 to 3 teaspoons cornstarch
Heat a large dutch oven on the stove. Pat meat dry, season with salt, add to dutch oven, and brown on all sides. Add all remaining ingredients except broth and cornstarch, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Transfer dutch oven from the stove top to the oven. Cook another 3 1/2 to 4 hours. After 2 hours, begin to check the pot every 30 to 45 minutes and add more liquid as necessary.
When the roast easily pulls apart, remove from the oven and transfer roast to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil. While the roast rests, pour off the juices from the pan into a fat separator. Return the defatted juices to the pan and place the dutch oven over medium flame. Combine the reserved broth with cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk well to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the juices and stir until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.
Using two forks, shred the roast and add the meat and any accumulated juices back to the pan. Stir to combine and enjoy.