Sunday, December 24, 2006

Smells like Christmas

My house finally smells like Christmas. Really smells of Christmas. Am I baking cookies? Not yet. I am making an elk weinbraten with my grandmother's recipe. Actually, my Aunt Norma's recipe. Norma had the foresight to shadow grandmother as she cooked and note the measurements and tricks grandma used; otherwise her cookery would be lost, because she used neither recipes nor measuring cups.

Weinbraten is essentially a piece of meat that you braise in an aromatic bath of wine, onions, bacon, pickling spices (cinnamon, cloves, mustard, bay leaf, etc.), brown sugar and wine vinegar. For hours. Did I tell you how wonderful my house smells?

Grandma learned to cook from her mother who had worked as a cook for some nobleman before she was married, so her recipes are also a true piece of German history. Here is how to make your own house smell like a German Christmas:

Auntie Norma's Weinbraten

1 silvertip beef (sirloin tip roast) or rump roast, washed & patted dry and then larded with hickory-smoked bacon
2 onions, sliced
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar

  1. Pour some oil in a pot and cut 3 slices of bacon into parts and fry.

  2. Put in the meat and brown on all sides.

  3. Slice in two onions and cook over med. high heat.

  4. Make sure meat is browned on all sides and remove from pot.

  5. Lower heat to med. and add brown sugar and stir with the onions till the sugar caramelizes.

½ bottle of dry white wine
1 c. wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. whole juniper berries
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. Pickling spices, making sure it includes bayleaf
Browned silvertip beef

  1. Cook SLOWLY -- 3 hours on low heat on top of stove.

  2. Taste and add 1 beef bouillon cube.

  3. Keep adding wine as you go and before the roast is finished you should have used the whole bottle (not in you -- but in the pot).

  4. Refrigerate for 2 days.

  5. On the day of serving, put the braten in the oven -- covered -- at 275° or lower and cook slowly for 2 hours. If liquid is lost, add more wine.

  6. Take the meat out and thicken the gravy with flour or cornstarch. Add 2 Tbsp. currant jelly for flavor.

Serve with potato dumplings, and red cabbage or weinkraut. Use the same wine as was used in the cooking.

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