Sauerbraten, Or How to Make Beef Round Tender and Delicious (2024)

The German way with round.

17th Feb 2009 Blake Royer

Sauerbraten is a national dish of Germany, and there are many variations in its preparation, all hailing from different regions. However, I didn't have to look much further than Alton Brown for a good recipe--the reviews on the recipe's page at Food Network are almost exclusively raving. A combination of cider and red wine vinegar provide the recipe's twang, and all the traditional notes for the marinade are hit (juniper berries, cloves, bay leaf) plus the welcome addition of mustard seeds.

While the meat was cooking, I shredded some savoy cabbage, which would be simply braised with white wine and a handful of juniper berries for about a half hour until tender. For the potatoes, I resisted my urge to roast them (it's by far my favorite way to prepare new potatoes) and followed the more traditional German way of boiling them . With the strong caramelized flavors of the meat and the pungency of the sauce, the creamy mildness of boiled potatoes ended up being a superior pairing.

Elin and I devoured this roast on Sunday with the late afternoon light waning. I could see why the tradition of an afternoon Sunday roast is popular in Europe: polishing off the last few bite, a carefully orchestrated combination of potatoes, meat, and cabbage, so the seductive combination of those tastes would linger--I felt full and lazy, reminiscing on a long, relaxing evening stretching out before me before Monday came 'round.


Adapted from Alton Brown

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins, optional

Combine the water, vinegars, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, and mustard seeds in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for ten minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

In the meantime, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the beef round heavily on all sides until very well browned. I seared mine for probably ten minutes, until no pink was left and there was tons of caramelization. This step is essential to creating flavor, and brown is flavor.

Allow the meat to cool somewhat, then transfer to a large freezer bag. Pour in the vinegar marinade and remove as much air from the bag as possible. Seal and refrigerate for three days, turning once a day to redistribute the mixture.

When the meat is done marinating and you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300F. Remove the meat from the bag and set aside, then pour the marinade into a large dutch oven or other braising vessel that can be covered. Add the sugar and heat gently to dissolve.

Add the meat, cover tightly, and place in the middle rack of the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours, until very tender. Keep an occasional eye on the liquid levels to make sure there's ample moisture to avoid burning, adding a little water if needed. The meat doesn't need to be submerged, there just needs to be some liquid. The marinade will reduce considerably, and become thick and rich.

When the meat is done, remove it from the liquid and keep warm. Pour the sauce through a strainer to remove the solids, then return to the braising dish and stir in the crushed gingersnaps. Heat gently until thickened (it didn't take long for mine to thicken, about a minute). Alton calls for straining the sauce again, but I liked thickness of it so I skipped that step. Stir in the raisins.

Pull away slices of meat and serve with the sauce. If it has turned out a little too tough (possibly the temperature was too high or it cooked too long), slice the meat perpendicular to its natural separations. It won't look as pretty on the plate, but will immensely help the tenderness.

And that is my new favorite way to create something delicious out of beef round.

Related: Homemade Italian Beef

Food, Soup-Stew, Alton Brown, American cuisine, Barbecue, Beef, Beef, Beef, Braising, Condiments, Cooking, Europe, Food and drink, German, German cuisine, Germany, Marination, Meat, Mustard, oil, Pickling, Round, Sauerbraten, Sauerbraten, Vinegar

Sauerbraten, Or How to Make Beef Round Tender and Delicious (2024)


What's the best way to cook round steak so that it's tender? ›

The best way to cook Round Steak is with moisture, which makes this cut of meat much more tender. Moist cooking includes slow cooking and braising.

Why is my sauerbraten tough? ›

If it has turned out a little too tough (possibly the temperature was too high or it cooked too long), slice the meat perpendicular to its natural separations. It won't look as pretty on the plate, but will immensely help the tenderness.

What cut of beef is sauerbraten made from? ›

Sauerbraten is a German roast of marinated meat, traditionally beef. Since it's generally made with tougher cuts (usually the rump roast), the meat is marinated for days at a time. The roast is sliced and served with a gravy. In some recipes, the gravy is made with gingersnaps.

How do you cook eye of the round so it is not tough? ›

Eye of round roast is roasted at 500 degrees F until juicy and delicious. This recipe takes a very tough piece of meat and makes it so tender. Feel free to improvise with the seasonings and use garlic salt instead of regular salt.

How do you keep round steak from getting tough? ›

Either before or after cooking, use a sharp knife cut the steak against the grain to break the muscle fibers down. This will make the steak easier to chew and make it feel more tender as you eat it. Instead of tenderizing with a mallet, you can also use a Jaccard tenderizer.

How to make beef round chunks tender? ›

8 Simple Ways to Make Tough Meat Tender
  1. Physically tenderize the meat. ...
  2. Use a marinade. ...
  3. Don't forget the salt. ...
  4. Let it come up to room temperature. ...
  5. Cook it low-and-slow. ...
  6. Hit the right internal temperature. ...
  7. Rest your meat. ...
  8. Slice against the grain.
Jan 26, 2018

Can you marinate sauerbraten too long? ›

Making sauerbraten authentically requires the meat to be marinated for anywhere from 2 to 10 days in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, and spices. Afterward, the meat is both tenderized and deeply flavored. Traditionally, the cut of meat used for sauerbraten, like rump roast, are tougher than other choice cuts of meat.

Why is my roast still tough after 7 hours? ›

There are several reasons why this could have happened even after so much cooking. First, your choice of a rump roast could be a factor since cuts from the hind quarter are very muscular and, since muscles are the most resistant to breaking, this cut is quite stubborn when it comes to becoming tender.

How do you fix a tough round roast? ›

  1. How to Tenderize a Tough Cut of Meat. Pound it out. Use salt. Use an acidic marinade. Use kiwi, papaya, or pineapple. Score it. Slow cook it.
  2. Our Favorite Recipes for Slow Cooked Meat.
Jan 17, 2024

What kind of onion is good for roast beef? ›

Though you can use white onions, sweet onions, or red onions, we recommend using yellow ones because of their unique flavor profile. Yellow onions are a widely used onion type in the US and is great with meat dishes such as pot roast, roasted chicken, lamb rack, stew, and more.

What does sauerbraten mean in German? ›

The name "Sauerbraten" is of German origin, and is derived from Sauer meaning "sour" or "pickled" and Braten meaning "roast meat", thus "sour roast".

What's the best way to cook a bottom round? ›

Because it's a tougher cut of beef, it's best cooked slowly to give the connective tissues time to break down; roasting at low temperatures and braising (pot roast) are two of the best ways to cook a bottom round. It can also be cut up and used as stew beef.

How do you tenderize beef eye round steak? ›

7 Ways to Tenderize Steak
  1. Pounding. Using a meat mallet (or kitchen mallet) to pound steaks helps soften and tenderize the meat. ...
  2. Salting. Most cuts of steak benefit from being salted up to an hour in advance of cooking, but especially tougher cuts. ...
  3. Marinating. ...
  4. Velveting. ...
  5. Slow Cooking. ...
  6. Enzymatic Application. ...
  7. Scoring.
Oct 18, 2022

What is the best cooking method for round meat? ›

Slow-cooking, braising, and cooking sous vide are some of the best cooking methods for eye of round steak.

How should eye of round steak be cooked? ›

Sous vide is also one of our favorite ways to cook this steak cut. But perhaps the best way to cook eye of round steak is to pan-sear it on the stove until its exterior browns and crisps up. This cut of steak is also good for beef stew, soups, stir fry, and more!

Should round steak be cooked dry or moist? ›

The Beef Bottom Round Steak contains muscles which are less tender than the top round muscle. The two muscles of this steak are the eye of the round on the left and the bottom round on the right. Note the heavy band of connective tissue separating the muscles. Moist heat is recommended for this steak.

What's the most tender way to cook steak? ›

Sous vide is one of the best methods to use to ensure that your steak comes out juicy and tender. This is an especially handy method to use for tough cuts of steak, like chuck or brisket, that require slow, even cooking to tenderize.

How do you make round steak eyes tender? ›

Find a tenderizing marinade recipe you like and allow your eye of round to marinate, refrigerated, for several hours or overnight before you cook it. You might also choose to sear your steak in a hot pan over medium high heat before baking it, if that's the method you choose to use.

How do you cook a steak without it getting chewy? ›

Rest Your Steak: After cooking, let your steak rest for about 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the steak, ensuring a juicy and tender bite. Reconsider Your Cut: If you consistently find one cut to be too chewy, try switching to a more tender cut next time.


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