Sauerbraten with potato dumplings

From Adam Ragusea.

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a lean, tough beef roast (bottom round is classic, figure .5 lb / 227g per person)
red wine vinegar (a lot, I used a whole bottle)
red wine
stock, water, etc.
honey or other sugar
onions, carrots, celery, leeks, garlic, whatever aromatics you’ve got, etc.
parsley or other fresh herb for garnish
potatoes (I’d figure one large baking potato per two people)
potato starch (cornstarch or AP flour would work instead)
egg (I only needed one for four big portions of dumplings)
ginger snaps or similar spice cookies (I needed like half a package, it’s a lot)
spices (a few juniper berries and cloves are key to me)

Roughly cut up your aromatics — they’re getting strained out in the end, so don’t be precious about it. Throw them in a pot along with some spices and add vinegar and red wine — I like a about 1 part vinegar to two parts wine to two parts stock/water, but don’t add the stock/water yet. Plan such that you’ll have just enough liquid to cover the roast at the end.

Bring this liquid to a boil then kill the heat. Stir in salt to taste, and maybe stir in a little honey or other sugar. Now is when you can add your stock/water to help cool things down — I like to throw in ice cubes.

When the liquid is cool and you have enough to submerge your raw roast, submerge your raw roast and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 7 days — make sure to do this in a ceramic or plastic vessel rather than a metal one, as the acid could leech out metal ions.

Take the roast out and dry it on paper towels. Heat a film of oil in a different pan and brown the roast on all sides. When the roast is brown, return it to the marinade. Either deglaze the pan water and add that liquid to the marinade, or brown a little starch/flour in the accumulated fat to make a roux then deglaze with water and add to the marinade.

Simmer the roast in the marinade, covered, until tender as you want it — I gave mine four hours and wished I had pulled it at three. You can simmer on the stovetop or in the oven — I did the oven at 300ºF/150ºC, because that allowed me to bake my whole potatoes at the same time, which took almost three hours at that relatively low temperature.

When the potatoes are squishably soft, take them out, cut them open and let them steam out. When they’re cool enough to handle, scoop out all the potato flesh and discard the skins. Break up any big pieces of potato and then season them to taste with salt and other spices — nutmeg would be traditional but I did garlic powder and onion powder and it was really good.

Into the potatoes, mix beaten egg and starch/flour for binding until you get a dough that will hold the shape of a ball — mix as little as possible and use as little starch/flour as possible or the dumplings will come out rubbery. Form roughly golf-sized balls and boil in a big pot of salted water until they float — about 10 minutes. Drain, and then you can toss these in a little melted butter or oil and just hold them covered until dinner is ready. Reheat if necessary.

When the roast is soft as you want it, take it out to rest, bring the marinade back up to a boil and reduce about by half. Thicken the gravy with ginger cookies — they’ll dissolve faster if you pulverize them first, but you can also just throw them in whole. When the gravy is thick as you want, strain it and discard the solids. Season to taste — it should be strongly sweet and sour and salty and meaty.

Slice the roast, serve with potato balls, drench everything in gravy and top with chopped parsley or some such. Maybe have a salad too?