You’ll never guess the secret ingredients in Mimi Sheraton’s bright yet balanced German pot roast.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    5 days


By Mimi Sheraton

Updated on September 18, 2023

It was in Cologne in 1963 that I finally solved the riddle of preparing sauerbraten. What I could not achieve until then was the golden glow that shimmers over the deep brown gravy; browning flour in the conventional einbrenne (roux) never yielded that result. But a generous chef demonstrated the secret: the addition of sugar to the einbrenne. It gilds the gravy even as its sweetness balances the sour lemon note and the zing of pickling spices. —Mimi Sheraton, author of The German Cookbook


  • 1 Tbsp. pickling spices
  • 14 whole cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • One 5-lb. beef eye of round
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1½ cups red wine vinegar
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 bacon slices, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 6 gingersnaps, crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley leaves


Step 1

Make a bouquet garni: In a square of cheesecloth, use twine to tie the pickling spices, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, and parsley into a tight bundle.

Step 2

Salt the beef generously and place in a large bowl. In a pot, bring the wine, vinegar, one of the onions, the carrot, bouquet garni, and 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour over the beef, then cover and refrigerate, turning once or twice a day, for 5 days. 

Step 3

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Transfer the beef to a plate and pat dry with paper towels. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the marinade. Reserve 5 cups of the marinade and the bouquet garni. 

Step 4

To a large, heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the bacon and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned and has rendered its fat, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add the beef and cook, turning every few minutes, until browned all over, 20–25 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining onions to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and deeply browned, about 18 minutes. 

Step 5

Return the beef to the pot. Add the reserved marinade and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Cover and bake until the beef is very tender, about 2½ hours. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and tent with foil. Into a bowl, strain the sauce. 

Step 6

In the pot, melt the remaining butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and sugar and cook, whisking continuously, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to high and whisk in the reserved sauce, raisins, gingersnaps, and lemon juice and boil until reduced slightly, about 7 minutes. 

Step 7

Thinly slice the sauerbraten and transfer to a platter. Ladle with the sauce, sprinkle with the bacon and parsley, and serve hot.

Continue to Next Story

Want more SAVEUR?

Get our favorite recipes, stories, and more delivered to your inbox.