Well, I’ve been promising this recipe for a while – the Bayer family sauerbraten. My great-grandmother Clara Bayer Lynch made this recipe, and my mom gave it to me, scribbled on a greasy, food-stained scrap of paper, written in a very shaky handwriting with many misspellings. I think it belonged to HER mother, and it’s been passed down to me. It’s the recipe I remember from my childhood.

My mom tells me that my great-grandmother (I called her Grammy), was not a very good cook, but she could make a mean German dinner. Although, she and her family tried to refute their heritage by calling themselves “German-descent”, rather than “German”. I don’t get the distinction, but after WWII, no one wanted to be known as German. Anyway, my family’s traditional sauerbraten recipe is direct from Bavaria (or “Bayern” as it’s known in Deutschland – hence my family’s name, changed from the original “Bayerer”).

I am so proud of my ability to make this delicious dish, and to possess so much culinary heritage, that I decided to make this for Bob when we first began dating. If I like you, I cook for you. Since he’s from a German family as well, I thought it would be even that much more special. I know his grandmother Voelker was from Germany (Munich, Bayern also), so I figured this was a dish he probably liked. I decided to do the whole thing, a traditional German dinner: sauerbraten, potato pancakes, spaetzle, red cabbage, and apple strudel for dessert. I was very impressed with myself, and Bob really seemed to enjoy it. But, when I asked him how he liked the sauerbraten, he said, “It’s not as good as my sister’s. But it’s good.” WHAT THE –?? Bob’s sister possesses the Voelker family sauerbraten recipe, and that’s the one she makes.

This comment is now a huge joke in our family – both my side and his. His sister was OUTRAGED that he actually said this to me, and his father laughed out loud. Turns out, not only did Bob say this to me, but his father said it to his mother, and his uncle Bill said it to his wife, too! Sounds like Grandma Voelker was a hell of a cook. No one can live up to her! From what I understand, her recipe calls for crushed gingersnaps in the gravy – mine does not. Apparently that makes all the difference.

I’m making sauerbraten today for Easter (MY recipe), and Bob’s sister is making it today, too. Bob called her to wish her a Happy Easter, and told her I was making it – she told him that he was NOT to scrutinize my dinner, just shut up and eat it.

So, here it is, and I believe in my heart that it’s the BEST version out there. I’ve also included an easy recipe for turning leftover pot roast into sauerbraten. Enjoy!

SAUERBRATEN

  • 3-4 lb. pot roast
  • 1 clove garlic halved
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lg onions sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2T lard or Crisco (olive oil works too)

Rub meat with cut side of garlic, then with salt & pepper. Put meat & garlic into deep covered casserole.

Heat just to boiling vinegar and next 6 ingredients. Pour over meat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate 4 days, turning meat each day.

Remove meat; strain and reserve liquid for cooking meat. Brown meat in hot oil in Dutch oven, turning to brown all sides evenly. Add half reserved liquid, then cover and simmer 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender. Add more liquid as needed. Slice and serve.

SAUERBRATEN (FROM LEFTOVER POT ROAST)

  • 2 cups gravy
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves

Mix all together and cook 20-25 min. Strain and pour over thinly sliced pot roast, rump roast, round, or any lean solid cut. Let stand 4-6 hours or overnight. Reheat and serve over buttered egg noodles.

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