Sauerbraten is, quite simply, the best pot roast that we know of.
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1 3/4 cups red wine
2 cups sliced yellow onions
6 parsley stems
6 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 to 2 pound chunk of top round
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup chopped, seeded tomatoes
3/4 cup water (approximately)
2 tablespoons cream sherry
1 tablespoon light brown sugar plus additional to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
parsley sprigs for garnish
1. In a medium saucepan combine vinegar, 1 1/2 cups of the red wine, and the onions. Wrap the parsley stems, peppercorns, bay leaves, and cloves in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie shut. Add this to the saucepan, and bring mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat, and cool to room temperature.
2. Prick the top round on all sides with a fork. Put it into a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Close bag and turn upside down a few times to cover meat well with marinade. Marinate, turning the bag once or twice a day, for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
3. When ready to cook, bring marinated beef to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove beef from marinade and pat dry. Strain marinade, reserving the liquid and onions; discard the cheesecloth bag.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
5. Combine the flour, salt, and black pepper on a large plate, mixing well.
6. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy, ovenproof pan with a lid, large enough to hold the roast, over moderately high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, dredge meat in flour mixture, then sear well on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Pour extra fat out of pan.
7. Place 1 cup of the marinating liquid, the remaining 1/4 cup red wine, and tomatoes in the pan along with the reserved onions from the marinade. Add enough of the water so that the liquid comes about one third of the way up the side of the beef. Bring liquid to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Cover beef pan with the lid, and braise in the oven, turning sauerbraten every 30 minutes or so and spooning braising liquid over it, until meat is very tender, about 3 hours. Remove beef from pan and keep warm, covered with foil.
8. Strain and degrease the braising liquid, and discard the solids. Place the braising liquid in a small saucepan, and add the remaining marinade along with the sherry and the 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Boil the liquid until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the additional brown sugar, if desired, and/or lemon juice to taste. Adjust seasoning.
9. Carve roast against the grain into slices that are about 3/8 inch thick. Arrange slices on a serving platter, spoon sauce over them, and garnish with parsley sprigs.
Sauerbraten is, quite simply, the best pot roast that we know of. Though we normally stay away from top round as a braising beef -- because it's so relatively lean -- we like to use it for sauerbraten, which requires intact slices of beef to be served at the table. Top round keeps its shape very well, and, in this dish, comes to the table quite moist -- due to the long marination and the long cooking time. To insure the moistness of the beef, have the butcher leave a thin outer covering of fat around the top round. Serve this deep, dark, sweet-and-sour treat with red cabbage and spaetzle. Serves 4