Earlier this week, I enjoyed taking a peek into the Revolutionary War period kitchen of Ken’s 4th Great-grandmother, Christina Manbeck. I’m pretty sure she would have cooked a version of the recipe for German pot roast that I’m sharing today. The will of her husband, Rudolph Manbeck specified the foods that Christina would need yearly after he was gone, and I was delighted to see that the list reinforced all I had read about the cooking of German immigrants.
They liked it spicey. They liked meat. They liked sweet and sour. So, following that look into Christina’s kitchen, here’s a recipe for a German pot roast. (I didn’t get any pictures, so this comes from the website Pane-Bistecca, recipes in both German and English). I believe that Christina would have had easy access to all the ingredients. We know she had beef. She no doubt raised garlic, mustard seed to make mustard, onions and celery. She had cream from her cow. She might have used flour for thickening rather than cornstarch. If she did not have other spices, she could buy them. And mushroom were free for the forager in the woods.
Rinderbraten with mustard marinade
Many months ago, I shared one of my own family’s favorite dishes, Sauerbraten. But Sauerbraten (recipe here) is not the only delicious German pot roast. Vary the spices and the cooking methods and you get bratens of other kinds.
Today’s roast is distinguished by its mustard coating. Pureeing the mushrooms, celery and onions cooked with the roast and then adding cream and broth makes a rich, aromatic gravy.
German World Magazine had the recipe I used, with just a couple of minor changes. That helpful site explains that this German pot roast is a very popular Sunday lunch recipe, and is most commonly served with Spaetzle, and vegetables, commonly brussel sprouts.
Since I had some German-style egg noodles from Mrs. Miller in Fredericksburg, Ohio, not far from where Ken and many of his ancestors lived, I decided to use Mrs. Miller’s noodles. And I used green beans for the vegetable. Neither of those things changed the basic incredible taste of the Rindrbraten.
German Beef Roast – Rinderbraten
- 1 1/2-3lb Beef (I used Chuck roast)
- 3 tablespoons mustard
- pepper and salt (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 onion (medium, chopped)
- 3-4 stalks of celery (chopped)
- 2/3 cups cooking oil (Or use the grease from 1/2 pound bacon plus 1/2 cup butter)
- 1-2 garlic cloves (chopped fine)
- 3 1/2oz mushrooms (3-5 depending on size)
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup broth (beef or vegetable broth)
- 3 tablespoons cream or half and half
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
||If you are using bacon fat, fry the bacon, and save the bacon itself for another use. Add the bacon to the skillet. |
||Mix mustard, salt, pepper and paprika in small bowl. |
||Dry beef and spread mustard on it. |
||Brown meat on all sides in the fat. |
||Take meat out of pan and wrap in aluminum foil to keep warm (or set in low oven.) |
||Fry vegetables in same fat used for the meat. Do not let them get dark brown. |
||Add wine and stir food bits from bottom of pan. |
||If you have cooked in a skillet this far, then dump the wine, vegetables, and juices into a larger pot. Cook for a few minutes on low heat. |
||Put meat back in pot on top of vegetables and continue to cook on very low heat. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. |
||When meat is tender, take it out of pan and keep warm while you make the gravy. |
||Puree the vegetables. (see note) |
||Add broth to vegetables in pot. |
||Put cream in bowl and thoroughly stir in the corn starch. |
||Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil, over medium heat. Stir in the cornstarch/cream mixture so there are no lumps. A whisk works best for this. |
||Put the meat back into the pot with the gravy. |
||Serve Beef on a platter, dribbled with gravy with potatoes, spaetzle or noodles with vegetables on the side. Scoop extra gravy into a gravy or sauce boat to ladle on the accompaniments. |
German Beef Roast comes in many varieties, depending on the spices and cut of beef. This German beef roast, Rinderbraten, benefits from slow cooking, and would do well in a crock pot. Its similar to the French Boeuf Bourguignon because of the slow cooking in red wine. (By the way, all the alcohol cooks off during the long cooking.)
The original recipe calls for a stem of leek in addition to the onion. I did not use the leek and took the onion pieces out of the broth before pureeing since family members cannot eat onion.
My philosophy is to try the recipe very close to the first version and then start experimenting the next time I make it. If you are feeling adventurous, feel free to try other seasonings. I saw many other recipes that varied the seasonings. One called for mustard, whiskey, garlic, rosemary and paprika.