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Jacob Wirth's Sauerbraten

For the beef:
8 lb. beef round or roast (eye of the round preferred)
2 C. good-quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 C. sherry vinegar
5 whole juniper berries
5 whole allspice berries
4 cinnamon sticks
10 whole black peppercorns
1/4 C. kosher salt
2 C. packed dark brown sugar
1 qt. vegetable oil
2 C. Spanish onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 C. carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 C. celery, peeled and roughly chopped

For the gingersnap sauce:
3 qts. beef stock
1 C. red wine vinegar
1/2 C. balsamic vinegar
1 C. creme fraiche or sour cream
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
32 oz. gingersnap cookies (approximately 16 large cookies), pureed in a food processor or crushed into fine crumbs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the beef: Trim the excess fat from the roast. With a fork or skewer, pierce the meat in several places.

In a large bowl, combine the vinegars, juniper berries, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, salt and sugar. Whisk together. Slowly whisk in the oil until the ingredients are emulsified.

Place the beef in a deep bowl and pour the oil-vinegar mixture over it. The meat should be completely covered by the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and seal tightly. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 24 hours, turning the meat occasionally in the marinade. The optimal flavor develops after 48 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat a large saute pan and add a small amount of vegetable oil. Remove the beef, reserving the marinade. Sear the beef in the saute pan until brown on all sides, being careful not to let the oil splatter.

Place the onions, carrots and celery in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the seared beef on top of the vegetables. Pour the reserved marinade over the top. Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 1-2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees on a meat thermometer. (For rarer meat, remove at an internal temperature of 120 degrees).

Remove the sauerbraten from the oven and allow to cool. The meat should be very tender and slice easily.

To make the gingersnap sauce: In a large pot, bring the beef stock and vinegars to a simmer. Continue simmering until the liquid is reduced by a quarter. Lower the heat and whisk in the sour cream, brown sugar and gingersnap crumbs. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the sliced beef with gingersnap sauce.

Makes 8 servings.

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