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Sauerbraten makes a hearty, inexpensive winter meal

A friend from cattle raising country tells a story about making friends with a Japanese family while on leave in Japan during the Korean War. He returned their hospitality in the best way he knew, with a standing rib roast of beef just large enough for the family and himself.

On delivering it in the morning he was told to come back for dinner that evening. When he arrived, he found that twenty-five other people had been invited, too.

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Sliced very, very, thin, you can realize that the roast made possible a tremendous amount of sukiyaki.

It makes a nice story about two cultures and how each approaches the eating of meat. Most American cookbooks recommend 1/2 to 3/4 pound of boneless meat per person.

In looking at my own buying habits recently, I realized I was going right along with these amounts, and decided to cut down drastically. Sauerbraten is a family favorite, so I started with these recipes. Sauerbraten 3 pounds beef for pot roast in 1 piece 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 2 onions, sliced 1 carrot, scraped and sliced 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped 4 cloves 4 peppercorns 1 cup beef broth 1/2 cup water 1 cup red wine vinegar 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons shortening 6 tablespoons butter 6 tablespoons flour 1 tablespoon sugar 8 to 10 gingersnaps

Place meat in a large glass, stainless steel, or earthenware dish large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Combine salt, pepper, onions, carrot, celery, spices, stock, water, vinegar, and pour over meat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 days, turning twice a day and shaking up marinade.

Heat shortening and 1 tablespoon butter in heavy caserole or saucepan and brown meat on all sides. Add marinade, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 3 hours.

Melt remaining butter in a skillet and add flour and sugar. Stirring constantly, cook until it is the color of brown wrapping paper. Whisk into meat juices and cook for another hour, or until meat is very well done. Remove to a warm platter. Crush gingersnaps and stir into gravy. Return meat to pot and keep warm until ready to slice and serve. Serves 4 to 6. Sauerbraten Meatballs 1 pound ground beef 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 egg 1/2 cup bread crumbs Salt and pepper 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground clove, allspice 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon flour 1 1/4 cups beef broth, homemade or canned

In a bowl, combine beef, onion, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and spices. Mix thoroughly with hands. Shape into 12 meatballs. Heat butter and oil in 8-inch skillet with tight lid and brown meatballs lightly.

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Sprinkle with brown sugar and flour and mix into fat. Stir in vinegar and broth and whisk until smooth. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, turning meatballs occasionally to absorb flavor on all sides.

Potato dumplings are best with sauerbraten, but they take time and patience. Here is a quick, but delicious, alternative. Crumbed Noodles 6 ounces medium egg noodles 6 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon salt, if butter is unsalted 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Cook noodles in plenty of salted water just until they are done, keeping their texture more firm than mushy.

In small skillet, melt butter, add crumbs and stir constantly until crumbs have toasted to a golden brown. Drain noodles and place in a warm serving dish. Scrape toasted crumbs over noodles and toss. Serves 3 or 4.

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