Cooking-Venison Sauerbraten

It’s cold.  I want comfort food.

Venison SauerbratenIn this house, comfort food doesn’t have to be pretty.  This isn’t.  But it does have to be warm, stick-to-your-ribs style delicious.  Sauerbraten fits that description.

Sauerbraten is definitely not a last-minute meal.  The meat has to marinate at least 2 or 3 days (mine went almost a week with no problem).  You can use beef for this, but we like venison better.  Lots better.

Front Leg Venison RoastWe’re going to prepare a roast from the front shoulder.  Since this muscle group gets a lot of use, it can be pretty tough.  It’s the perfect cut for sauerbraten.  If you don’t have venison, use a beef chuck or rump roast.

Tenderize the meat.We’re going to tenderize this one.  It’s a thick cut, and that will help get the marinade down into the meat.  If you don’t have one of these fancy gizmos, you can use a metal skewer or a thin knife blade.

Marinade IngredientsHere’s the ingredients for the marinade.  Our roast is a little over 3 pounds, so I’m going to make a bit more than I usually do.

  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped (or sliced)
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2-1/2 cups red wine (I used a pretty inexpensive Cabernet)
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 4 whole cloves (or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1 bay leaf

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl.Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well. In case you think it’s a typo, I’ve started leaving out the garlic from the marinade.  We decided the garlic gets a bit overpowering (we’re using fresh garlic from our garden, so that’s probably why).  If you want to add garlic, I’d use about 2-3 cloves.  Feel free to add or subtract whatever vegetables or seasonings you like (or don’t like).

Ready for the fridge.Pour the marinade over the meat and put some vegetables under the meat, too.  Cover and refrigerate.  Use a non-reactive bowl (glass, stainless, etc.)  Some people like to use a large plastic bag.  That works fine, but put the bag into a bowl.  Trust me, you don’t want to clean bright purple marinade from every nook and cranny and vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

If the meat is not quite submerged, that’s OK – it gets turned over every day.  This may look like a lot of liquid, but it ends up being made into the gravy.  And BarBBQ Bill loves LOTS of gravy.

Drain and reserve the marinade.Drain the meat and reserve the marinade.  Yep, the meat is purple.

Dredge in seasoned flour.Dredge in seasoned flour.

Fry up some bacon.Use a large pot or casserole that can be used both on the stove and in the oven.  Fry a few strips of bacon. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Brown the meat in bacon fat.Brown the meat in the bacon fat.

Add the marinade.Once the meat is browned, add the reserved marinade and the bacon (or use the bacon for braised red cabbage as a side dish).  Cover and bake low and slow (about 3 hours at 250-300°).

Falling off the bone.It’s falling-off-the-bone tender.  Remove the meat and thicken the gravy.

Serve over spaetzle or noodles or mashed potatoes with a simple braised red cabbage on the side.

Comfort food at its finest.

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