Sauerbraten is considered the national dish of Germany, but foreigners may find that it is an acquired taste. Making it at home takes time, so you may want to try it at a German restaurant to be sure that you like it before cooking it yourself. If you’re already a fan, here’s what to do.
Tie the roast with string if the butcher hasn’t already done so. Rub roast with salt and place in a deep glass bowl.
Combine the vinegar, sliced onion, two bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and carrot in a saucepan. Boil, then let simmer for 5 minutes. Let this mixture cool, then pour it over the roast.
Cover the roast and refrigerate for 3 to 6 days, turning at least once daily.
Remove the beef from the marinade, then strain and reserve the marinade. Dry the meat very well with paper towels and set it aside.
Dice and fry bacon over low heat in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Brown roast quickly, uncovered, on all sides in bacon fat and butter. Remove the meat and saute diced onion.
Replace the meat, then add the reserved marinade until it comes up to half the height of the roast; refrigerate remaining marinade. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and simmer over low heat 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Check meat often and turn, making sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan.
Add reserved marinade as needed to replace what has evaporated.
Serve with spätzle.