Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sour Beef: are you a fan or not?

I am a suggestive eater.  Wait....that doesn't sound quite right.  Let me try again...... I'm a suggestive cooker?  No, not that either, altho, I do have the cookbook Cooking in the Nude by Debbie and Steve Cornwell.  I've never actually used it.  It was a gift from someone.  Possibly the Handyman.
......I am often swayed, by books I've read, to make certain food dishes.  Food dishes?  Recipes?

Last week, when I read  The Sugar House by Laura Lippman, a Tess Monaghan book,  the characters went to a festival and had Sour Beef.    They were all looking forward to it.  Tess was even going to ask for an extra dumpling!

Most of the Tess Monaghan books take place in Baltimore, Maryland.  I love learning about Baltimore thru the Tess Monaghan books.  I am wondering tho,   is Sour Beef a local favorite of Baltimorians?  (or however you refer to yourselves). Or perhaps a favorite of author Laura Lippman, so she incorporated it into her book?

I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Sour Beef.   Sour Beef.

All the characters LOVED it.    I Googled it. 

It's pretty much another name for Sauerbraten, the German pot roast which is marinated in vinegars and spices, and some recipes use gingersnap cookies in them.

Since I couldn't get it out of my mind, I  knew I had to make it.  (this happens quite often when I am reading a book, just ask my family.  Sometimes it turns out great!  Sometimes not)
It was our Sunday dinner.  Mmmmm...Sour Beef.   We would be enjoying it just as Tess and Crow had in the  Sugar House.
Except for one thing.  We didn't  enjoy it.

Please, please don't take offense all you from Baltimore  (I still love Baltimore), it's just that this recipe was ----well, it was REALLY sour.  And it kind of ruined the roast for us.  Maybe it's an acquired taste.
To be fair, I would try Sour Beef or  Sauerbraten again--at a festival or restaurant where their specialty is German food, but I'll never make it again at home.  It just wasn't good.  At least how it turned out for me.

WAIT--I might have spoke too soon.  I just remembered a German Pot Roast recipe that my grandfather wrote down for me.  And I just went and looked it up.   Ooohhhhh.....I should do a contrast and compare between the two.
This one is different tho, it only has 3 T. of vinegar and the sour beef had cups.  CUPS of vinegar--red wine vinegar--but still.....
I'll get back to you on that one.

But for now.....just in case I am wrong  (it's been known to happen)

Baltimore-Style Sour Beef and Dumplings
adapted from Coconut and Lime, a food blog.

1 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 onions sliced
2 carrots sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 whole cloves
2 tbsp  black peppercorns
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

3 1/2 pound beef round roast

24 hours before your meal,  make the marinade in a non-reactive bowl and place the roast in it.
The next day:
remove roast from marinade and pour the marinade into a slow cooker.  In a large skillet, quickly brown all sides of the meat in  canola oil. Add the meat to the slow cooker and turn on low for about 8 hours.

Potato Dumplings

4 cups plain mashed potatoes made from peeled red potatoes.
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In a bowl combine the cooled mashed potatoes, salt and egg. Stir in the baking powder and add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until it resembles a dough and the mixture holds its shape when molded  (roughly 3 cups).  Form into 2 to 4" balls.  Drop them into the water.  They should sink, then rise to the surface when cooked through. Set aside.

During the  last 1/2 hour of cooking time, skim off any visible fat that may have risen to the top of the slow cooker.
Add 8 crushed gingersnaps and turn the heat to high.
After the time is up, shred the meat with a fork or break it into pieces.

Serve hot with dumplings on the side.

(sigh) for the sake of full disclosure....I had no red wine vinegar, so I used white wine vinegar and red wine mixed together. I didn't think there could be that much difference, but maybe there was. According to it says I can interchange them if...if...if I want to die! says that white wine vinegar is more tangy. Maybe that was my problem. I shouldn't have substituted.
As I be fair, I would try Sour Beef again--made from a qualified Sour Beef maker!


MM said...

Debbie-your suggestiveness makes me laugh. Once while reading a fundraiser cookbook, I saw a note at the end of a recipe: "Suggestive Garnishments..."

I've never heard of sour beef. Not sure about it either!

bermudaonion said...

My husband would love it if I would try all those different recipes. I've never had sour beef, so I don't know if I like it or not.

Karen said...

Aww, too bad you didn't enjoy it. The potato dumplings look great - I bet those were yummy. That sure is a lot of vinegar for one recipe!

Brenda said...

Never tried it Debbie so I have no idea if I like it. Cooking in the Nude? LOL! Might be a good cookbook for Cookbook Sundays! :o)

Linda in Baltimore said...

I'm from Baltimore and your recipe is correct. Don't use white vinegar, use wine vinegar or cider vinegar. White distilled vinegar's taste is too sharp. Sauerbraten or Sour Beef does have a different flavor than roast beef; but what your recipe is missing is the gingersnap gravy. The last 1/2 hour of cooking, crush 18 gingersnaps (I put them in a ziplock and roll a rolling pin over them), then add to cooking liquid to thicken and flavor the gravy. That gives it a gingery sweet and sour flavor that I think you will enjoy.

Linda in Baltimore said...

In my recipe, I use 1.5 C. Cider vinegar and 1.5 C. water and I use 2 TBS. of sugar.

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