Both Frank Falcinelli and Frank Castronovo had early experiences with sauerbraten, the German braised brisket. Castronovo sampled it on trips to Germany; Falcinelli had it at the German deli where he worked as a teenager. The terrific recipe they ultimately perfected is both very sweet and very sour, made with raisins, apples, red wine vinegar and red wine.
Plus: More Beef Recipes and TipsMore German Recipes
2 1/2 pounds beef brisket, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 juniper berries, smashed
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tart apples, finely chopped, plus 1/2 tart apple, peeled and chopped, for garnish (optional)
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the beef brisket with the red wine, red wine vinegar, juniper berries, white peppercorns, carrots, celery, garlic and 1 of the onions. Close the bag, pressing out any air and refrigerate the brisket overnight or for up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 275°. Strain the marinade, discarding the solids. Pat the brisket dry. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the brisket with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the brisket to a large plate. Add the remaining 3 onions and the 2 finely chopped apples to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes.
Return the brisket to the casserole and add the raisins, bay leaf, thyme and the strained marinade. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in the oven for about 3 hours, until the meat is very tender; turn the brisket halfway through cooking.
Carefully transfer the brisket to a plate; cover and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a heatproof measuring cup, pressing down on the solids. Wipe out the casserole and add the cooking liquid and chicken stock. Boil over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain and garnish with the chopped apple. Serve with the sauce and Pretzel Dumplings.
The brisket can be refrigerated in the sauce, whole or sliced, for up to 2 days. Rewarm in the oven.
Sauerbraten, which inspired Falcinelli and Castronovo's recipe, is typically served with beera German pilsner, say, like the crisp Einbecker that's on the list at Prime Meats. If pouring wine, though, go for a fruity, low-tannin red, like an Australian Shiraz.
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