Lüchow’s was a grand German restaurant and New York City landmark on East 14th Street. Sadly, it closed in 1982 after one hundred years. I grew up hearing my grandmothers and parents talk of the place as a special destination, and was lucky enough to have dined there a couple of times in the years just before it closed. I’m also lucky to have found a copy of “Lüchow’s German Cookbook” (1952) from which I take this recipe for their signature dish. (With one exception, I have transcribed the recipe precisely: the original calls for kidney fat; I have substituted vegetable oil.)
- 3 lbs round steaks
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 4 cloves
- 4 peppercorns
- 1⁄2 pint red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or kidney fat)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 5 gingersnaps, crushed
- potato dumplings (see Luchow's Kartoffel Klasse)
- Wipe steak with damp cloth, season with salt and pepper. Place in earthen, glass, or enamelware bowl. Combine onions, carrot, celery, cloves, peppercorns, vinegar, and bar leaves and 2-1/2 pints water, or enough to cover meat. Cover and put in refrigerator 4 days.
- On fifth day remove from refrigerator, drain meat, sauté in vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter in enamelware, glass or earthenware utensil, until seared on all sides. Add marinade liquid and bring to boil, then lower heat and let simmer about 3 hours.
- Melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a pan. Stir flour smoothly into it. Add sugar, blend, and let brown to nice dark color. Add to simmering meat mixture. Cover and continue cooking until meat is tender, about 1 hour longer.
- Remove meat to a warmed serving platter. Stir crushed gingersnaps into the pot juices and cook until thickened. Pour this special sauerbraten gravy over meat. Serves 6 or more.
- Serve with Potato or Bread Dumplings. A fine full-bodied red wine is a fitting complement to this well-known dish. A favorite with our guests is Pommard Burgundy.