"Fantastisch bequemlichkeitsess" are the German words for "comfort food," and Germany's specialty dish of sauerbraten, served warm with rich, tangy gravy and fresh-cooked potato dumplings is, in plain English, just that. Although there is nothing plain about a well-made sauerbraten, the ability of sauerbraten to improve one's emotional wellbeing, with its mouth-watering aroma, ultra-tender meat and bold, spicy flavors, ranks right up there with other savory comfort food classics, such beef stew, shepherd's pie and the ubiquitous bowl of chili. I did not grow up with sauerbraten, but people who did, tell me that it's one of the dishes they crave most this time of year. If you were lucky enough to have inherited grandmother's recipe for sauerbraten, but haven't made it yet this season, you're probably overdue for some comforting. And, if you have never eaten sauerbraten before, you're in for a pickle of a treat. The beer and hearty rye or pumpernickel bread that goes so well with the dish are powerfully comforting, too. As long as folks are willing to make the effort, family dinners that include dishes like sauerbraten can continue. Grandmother's recipes can live on. And comfort foods can do what they're created to do best -- comfort.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 bay leaves
12 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup beer
1 cup water
1 cup full-bodied red wine
4 sliced onions
2 slices lemon
1 (4-pound) boneless rump roast, tied with kitchen twine
(The twine will help to keep the meat together during the marinating process.)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup crushed gingersnap crumbs, plus more if needed
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 carrot, scraped
1 stalk celery, rinsed and cleaned of debris
Rinse meat and pat dry. Combine salt and ground black pepper; rub into meat. Place meat in a large non-reactive container large enough to hold meat, plus marinating liquids. Bring the ingredients in marinade mixture 1 to a boil, then cool and pour over meat. Mix together the ingredients in marinade mixture 2 and add to the container with the meat. Cover meat tightly and refrigerate for 2 days, turning meat once daily if meat is not entirely submerged in liquid. Remove meat from marinade and remove the twine; strain marinade through a sieve into bowl, then set aside marinade aside. Wipe meat dry and coat with flour. Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a Dutch oven until hot and brown meat on all sides. Lower heat to medium, then add half the reserved marinade, the carrot and the celery. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until meat is tender, adding more marinade to the pot to keep up the level of liquid. (If needed, water may be added to the cooking pot, as well.) When meat is tender, transfer to a heated platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Skim fat from liquid left in Dutch oven, then stir in gingersnap crumbs. Cook for 10 minutes allowing crumbs to dissolve and sauce to thicken. (If sauce is not thick enough, add more crushed gingersnaps until desired consistency is reached.) Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, forcing the vegetables and crumbs through the sieve with a wooden spoon. Return the sauce to the pan, adjust seasoning and simmer. Slice the roast across the grain and place on a platter. Just before serving, gently stir in sour cream, if using. (Do not allow mixture to boil.) Pour some of the gravy over the meat, serving additional gravy on the side. Serve with potato dumplings and red cabbage. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
6 medium (about 2 1/2 pounds )
Russet potatoes, scrub and peeled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup farina
1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Toasted croutons, store bought or homemade
Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until tender; drain. When cool enough to handle, push potatoes through a potato ricer into a medium bowl.
Add eggs, farina, breadcrumbs, salt, allspice and sugar, beating well with a wooden spoon. Roll potato mixture into balls the size of a golf ball. Insert a crouton into the center of each ball. Gently drop dumplings into a large pot of boiling water.
Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. (The dumplings will drop to the bottom of the pot, but will float to the top of the water.) Potato dumplings are best eaten fresh, but can be re- warmed in a frying pan set over medium-low heat with some butter.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening (like Crisco)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling cookies in
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl; set aside. Cream shortening while gradually adding sugar. Beat in egg and molasses. Beat in dry ingredients. Using a teaspoon, roll dough into small balls (about 1-inch), then roll each ball in granulated sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet (about 2-inches apart). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. For a soft cookie bake the lesser time.* Cool on pan for 2 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 4 dozen cookies.
Kitchen Ade Note: For a soft, puffier cookie, bake cookies about 10 to 12 minutes.
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