Monday, February 12, 2007

Seitan Sauerbraten

When I was growing up, my German grandmother would often make sauerbraten and it was always served with potato dumplings that I couldn't get enough of. Unfortunately I wasn't so interested in cooking in those days and I never got to cook with my grandmother and learn any of her recipes. (Though I do remember one time - when I had come home from college maybe - that I helped her roll the dumplings and I just couldn't do it quite like she did.) Fast forward many years, but still a few years ago, and I happened upon a Tempeh Sauerbraten recipe in Very Vegetarian. I went to our local international foods store and found the same Bavarian potato dumpling boxed mix that my grandmother used and I tried the Tempeh Sauerbraten recipe. It was good but not quite what I was looking for.

On a more recent trip to the same store I picked up another of the potato dumpling mixes and figured I'd give the sauerbraten another go at some point. That box had been sitting in the cabinet for a while but I was inspired recently when I saw an episode of Good Eats about vinegar, and a large part of the episode was devoted to sauerbraten. Translated, sauerbraten basically means "marinated beef" and there's always lots of vinegar involved, and often red wine too. In the end the marinade is sweetened and thickened with crushed ginger snaps, creating a nice sweet and sour gravy. For cooking my seitan version I even used a wooden spoon (or kochlöffel) that used to belong to my grandmother. I don't know what she'd think of my vegan creation, but Darlene and I thought it was great. And the potato dumplings really brought me back. Though the next time I do this I think I'll come up with a scratch recipe for the dumplings because the box mix has artificial flavors and some preservatives I could do without. Still, everything was scrumptious - especially with some red cabbage on the side.

Seitan Sauerbraten

(adapted from Sarah Kramer and Alton Brown)

1 c. gluten flour
3/4 c. water

for the broth:
3 c. water
1/2 c. red wine
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbs. vegan worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. ground sage
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, crushed slightly

for the gravy:
reserved broth
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. crushed ginger cookies

Combine all the broth ingredients in a medium stockpot. Mix together the gluten and water in a large bowl and knead for about 5 minutes. Cut into 6-8 equal pieces and add to the broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover (leave the lid slightly ajar). Simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now remove the seitan from the broth, place in a baking dish and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, turning once half way through. Meanwhile, strain the broth and add 1 1/2 cups to a small saucepan (add water if you end up with less than that). Add sugar, vinegar and crushed ginger snaps, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Cut the baked seitan into slices and serve with the gravy.


Mark said...

Wow! Yeah, just wow -- I can't think of anything else appropriate to say except I'll have to try this. I wish I could taste some right now (eventually I'm sure the cyberworld will evolve to the point where that would be possible, right?)

Twisted Cinderella said...

that sounds wonderful. I love when we can come up with recipes that bring us back to our childhood like that.

sarchan said...

Thanks so much for this recipe. I'm really intrigued, and I've never had sauerbrauten--acutally I don't really think I've had German food before. I will definitely be trying this soon. Sounds like awesome winter comfort food.

aTxVegn said...

This recipe sounds so good! My dad is full German and I love sauer everything.

Chris said...

one of these days Mark...

Not growing up as a vegan, it's always interesting veganizing foods I grew up with twisted c. And this certainly qualifies as comfort food sarchan. I may try to tweak the recipe a bit tx, but it's good as it is so give it a try.

Amanda M. said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe! I've never had or even heard of Sauerbraten but I love seitan anything so I gave it a shot last night. I messed up my seitan - it was wayyyyyyy too chewy, but that gravy was sooo yummm! Loved the ginger cookie flavoring it. You run a mighty fine blog here.

Hippy Nursey said...

My dad is German and we used to eat this at home every once in a while. I remember not liking the stringy meat but LOVED the gingery gravy! I would eat spaetzle and the ginger gravy and not touch the sauerbraten! Thanks for the great memories - I'll have to try your version.

Anonymous said...

Delicious! I made it last night and the whole family loved it. I took it to work and my co-workers drooled over the smell. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I know that this was posted several years ago, but I had to comment anyway. First of all, thank you so much for posting this recipe! I have been a vegetarian for 9 years now and this is the one and only meat food that I have missed. I have been searching for a vegetarian version for a long time now. I can't wait to make this. Thank you again!