5 lb. beef rump roast
12 fresh spring White Pine candles (the little shoots of new growth that are still tender and soft)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
1 T. whole black peppercorns
1 T. juniper berries
1 T. yellow mustard seeds
1 t. red pepper flakes
red wine vinegar
flour for dredging
olive oil and butter for browning
1 c. beef broth
1/4 c. pignoli
1 T. butter
Harvest the pine candles from white pine trees — white pine trees have long thin needles, very airy and soft. The candles are the new growths in the spring, light green shoots coming off the ends of branches, still soft and juicy. Pine candle stems and baby needles are tender and pliant. You need to cut them in the spring (April or May depending on the weather), but they freeze well so you can gather a lot and freeze them.
Crumble up the pine candles in your hands to release the sap (sticky business but necessary) and rub into the roast. Press in the rest of the spices and put in a container that will hold it snugly as possible. Add the onion and carrots and then add red wine and red wine vinegar — 2 parts red wine to 1 part vinegar — come up 2/3 the way of the roast.
Put the container of roast and marinade in the fridge. Marinate for at least three days, turning it over once a day. Four days are fine, any more than that isn’t advised (I’m not sure why not, but it doesn’t seem like a good idea so just don’t).
Remover the roast from the marinade and pat it dry. Brush off all traces of the marinade and spices and toss that whole mess out.
Bring the roast to room temperature, and dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Sear the roast well on all sides in a nice amount of equal parts oil and butter. Give it good browning all over. You’ve come this far — don’t start taking short cuts now.
Once well browned, add a generous cup of beef broth and cover the pot. Put in a pre-heated 300º oven for 2 hours. After 1 1/2 hours, check for doneness by slicing into it — it should be cooked through. If it’s nice and evenly brown from top to tail, it’s done. Don’t let it dry out and get stringy. My 5-pound lump went 2 hours.
When done, remove the roast and cover with foil to let rest for 10-15 minutes.
In a dry skillet toast the pignoli (pine nuts) over medium high heat, shaking and tossing regularly to avoid burning. As soon as about half of them seem browned, take them off the heat and pour into the pot with the braising juices.
Bring the braising juices and nuts to the boil and scrape up all the browned bits in the pot. Thicken with a tablespoon of flour — whisk in 1 tablespoon and boil for a minute. The goal is for a thick liquid — not thick goo. Better to err on the side of juicy sauce vs. sludge.
Slice the warm sauerbraten across the grain into thin serving portions. Fan out on a serving platter and dress with the pignoli sauce. Garnish with a festive sprig of white pine — and note that the fluffier pieces are prettier than the still somewhat fetal candles.Print This Post