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    Vinegar-Braised Spiced Beef

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    Vinegar-Braised Spiced Beef

    Otherwise known as 'sauerbraten', this is a classic dish from the German kitchen, essential at every wedding or birthday celebration. A joint of beef is marinated for 3-5 days, then slow-simmered in a closed pot, the juices made fragrant with spices, sweetened with root vegetables and sharpened with vinegar. The housewives of the Black Forest make this dish with wild venison, which is delicious with a handful of dried 'steinpilz' - porcini mushrooms.

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus 3-4 days marinating
    • Cooking time: 120 minutes
    • Total time: 2 hours 25 minutes, plus 3-4 days marinating

    Serves: 6 - 8


    • 40g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water (optional)
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2-3 tsp sugar
    • 2kg piece de-boned braising beef (brisket or shoulder)
    • 500ml red wine vinegar
    • 500ml red wine
    • ½ tsp peppercorns, crushed
    • 1 tsp juniper berries, crushed
    • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • 2 carrots, scraped and cut into thin batons
    • 125g streaky bacon or pancetta, trimmed into long strips
    • 1 tbsp lard or oil
    • 250g pickling onions
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1kg root vegetables (such as celeriac, turnip and parsnip), peeled and chunked
    • To finish
    • 284ml carton double cream


    1. Spread the meat out in a deep dish, untying and unrolling it if necessary. Pour over the vinegar and wine then stir in the peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves and salt. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 3 days, but no more than 5.
    2. When ready to cook, remove the meat, reserving the marinade, and pat dry. Lay the batons of carrot and the strips of bacon in 2-3 lines right along the length of the long side, roll and tie neatly in a bolster.
    3. Heat the lard or oil over a medium heat in a casserole that will just accommodate the meat and vegetables, and fry the onions until lightly browned. Remove and reserve.
    4. Add the meat to the pan and turn in the fat for a few minutes to brown on all sides, this caramelises the meat sugars and gives a deliciously rich, roasted flavour to the gravy. Add the garlic, browned onions and root vegetables and allow everything to fry together gently for 5 minutes. Add the reserved marinade, the sugar, some pepper, the soaked porcini, and enough water just to cover - don't be too generous. Bring up to the boil, skimming off any scum, then reduce the heat and cover tightly. Simmer gently on the stove or transfer the pot to a low oven (150°C/gas 2). Cook for 1½-2 hours, turning the joint a couple of times during the cooking and adding more boiling water if it looks like drying out. When the meat is tender and velvety, transfer to a warm platter. Leave to settle and firm for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
    5. When you're ready to serve, arrange the vegetables round the meat (or, if you like, replace with fresh-cooked vegetables).
    6. Ladle 1 litre of the cooking liquid into a clean pan and add the cream. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour over the meat, or serve in a jug. Serve with lightly cooked, shredded cabbage and dumplings or floury potatoes boiled in their jackets

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