Wednesday, February 12, 2014


(Sour Beef)
serves 8
                                                                       Prep time: 24 hours
                                                                       Cook time: 1hour 15 minutes
                                                                       Total time: 25 hours 15 minutes


sour beef:

2 tablespoons pickling spices
30 whole cloves
10 juniper berries
4 cups dark vinegar
2 cups water
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (either whole or cut into large cubes if you prefer)
2 cups sugar
3/4 pounds gingersnaps
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional dumplings:

10 Potatoes
2 eggs
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder


marinate the beef:

Form a bouquet garni of the pickling spices, cloves, and juniper berries.

Create a marinade by combining the vinegar, water, salt and pepper.

Place meat, the onion, celery, carrot, ginger and the bouquet garni in a glass or ceramic bowl large enough to contain both the meat and enough marinade to cover meat.  

Pour the liquid over meat, pushing the meat down into the liquid, if there is not enough liquid to completely submerge the beef, add additional vinegar and water to bring the level up. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or longer. 

cook the beef*:

Place the marinated beef and the onions in your crock pot, retain the marinating liquid.  

Stir the sugar into the marinating liquid and add the marinade to the crock pot until it covers the beef, if the marinating liquid does not completely cover the beef add a mixture of additional water and vinegar to bring the level up.  Reserve any remaining marinating liquid.

Cover and cook the roast (or beef cubes) on Low for 8 hours. Turn slow cooker off. Transfer roast to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil (or remove the beef cubes to a bowl). 

create the sauce:

Place the ginger snaps in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them.

Strain the cooking liquid into a large bowl or large measuring cup and discard the onion and the bouquet garni.  Pour the strained liquid into large sauce pan over high heat, stir the crushed ginger snaps into the marinating liquid.

Turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring, until the gravy is thickened and richly flavoured, about 15 minutes.

Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  If the sauce is too sour salt will mitigate the sourness.

 optional potato dumplings (start the dumplings about 1 hour before service):

prepare the potatoes:

While the sour beef is cooking, peel the potatoes and slice into quarters.  Place a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat.  When the water comes to a boil reduce heat to a simmer and add the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes until tender and easily pierced by a fork and almost fall apart, about 30 minutes.

Drain the cooked potatoes thoroughly in a large colander.

When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the now dry pot and put the pot back onto the stove Turn the burner on low. What we’re going to do is mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients. That way, the potatoes won’t be watery or “mealy.”

Mash until most of the steam has escaped and the chunks of potato have been mashed well, about three minutes.  Remove the mashed potatoes from the stove and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Add salt and eggs and mix well until completely combined.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder and gradually mix into the potatoes.

form the dumplings: 

Dip your hands in flour and scoop up enough of the potato mixture to form into about a 2 to 3-inch ball, and place the ball onto a plate.  Continue the process until all the mashed potatoes have been formed into balls.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, place some of the dough balls into the boiling water without crowding, the dumplings will come to the surface and float when done.   As they come to the surface, remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. 

Continue until all the potato balls have been cooked.


Shred the sour beef roast and place it on a serving platter (or place the beef cubes on the serving platter), top with the potato dumplings and serve immediately accompanied by the warm ginger snap gravy.

* if you are using the roast rather than the cubes and would prefer sliced sauerbraten rather then shredded, the beef can also be cooked in a Dutch oven.  Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Place the roast in your Dutch oven along with the marinating liquid and the chopped vegetables, the bouquet garni, and the piece of ginger insuring that the liquid completely covers the roast (if it doesn’t add water so it does) cover and place in the middle rack of the oven and cook until tender, about 4 hours.  When the roast is cooked remove from the oven to a cutting board retaining the cooking liquid, cover with foil and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes slice, plate the meat and continue to prepare the sauce.

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