Venison Chop Sauerbraten

Hiver 2016
food and drink

BY: Christopher St. Onge

Sauerbraten, and old school German cooking in general, has fallen out of favour in this country since its heyday in the mid-20th century. It’s a shame really because sauerbraten in particular is a wickedly good dish full of lip-smacking goodness, and is hugely satisfying to both cook and to eat on a blustery winter’s day. Plan ahead, as the chops need to marinate for at least 48 hours. While not technically a chop, 1½-inch (4-cm) thick venison osso bucco cut from the hind shanks makes an economical substitute to the more expensive loin chops.

2 cups (500 mL) Pinot Noir
1 cup (250 mL) red wine vinegar
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) peppercorns
1 tsp (5 mL) dried juniper berries (about 12)
1 tbsp (15 mL) whole allspice berries
6 whole cloves
2 fresh bay leaves
Generous sprig thyme
1 medium onion, sliced
6 venison loin chops, each 1½ inches (4 cm) thick, tied
4 slices double-smoked bacon, chopped
3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) flour
2 tsp (10 mL) sugar
3 crushed ginger snap cookies
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish

1 In a medium pot, combine wine, vinegar and salt over medium-high heat; stir to dissolve salt. Add peppercorns, juniper and allspice berries, cloves, bay leaves, thyme and onion; bring to a boil, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

2 Arrange chops in a single layer in a large glass baking dish or other non-reactive vessel. Pour marinade over, cover tightly and refrigerate for 48 to 72 hrs, turning the chops over midway through.

3 Remove chops from marinade and blot dry; set both marinade and chops aside separately.

4 Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

5 Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat; add bacon and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until fat has rendered and bacon is crisped. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate and reserve.

6 Increase heat to high, add 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter to the bacon fat and when foaming add chops in a single layer and brown 3 minutes per side; pour marinade over chops, bring to a boil, cover and place in oven. Cook until meat is tender, about 2½ hours.

7 Remove chops to a plate, tent with foil to keep warm, and set aside. Strain braising liquid and discard solids. Measure liquid to ensure you have at least 2 cups (500 mL); if not, top up with water. Reserve liquid.

8 Clean Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Melt remaining 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, sprinkle flour and sugar over butter; cook, stirring often, until mixture is golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in braising liquid, bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.

9 Whisk in ginger snaps, season with pepper and check for seasoning; add more salt if necessary. Remove from heat, return chops to pan and turn to coat in sauce. Serve chops and sauce over spaetzle (recipe follows), or hot buttered noodles. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 6

A type of small dumpling—really a raggedy egg noodle—spaetzle is very easy to make. This version features grainy mustard in the batter and complements the sauerbraten beautifully.

4 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) milk
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard
2¼ cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) melted butter

1 In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and mustard; add flour and stir until no lumps remain.

2 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Turn batter out into a large colander and position over pot; using a spatula, press batter through holes and into water. Return to a boil and cook 2 minutes or until firm and swollen. Drain, turn out into a large bowl and toss with butter.

Serves 6

What to Serve