By David Draper
Although black bears are found all over North America, they have an Old World aura around them. Therefore, bear meat is a natural fit for many Central and Eastern European recipes. Here, a bear roast gets the traditional sauerbraten treatment with a long marinade in red wine and vinegar, with a slightly sugary sauce that pairs with the natural sweetness of the meat.
Prep time: 30 minutes + marinade time
Cook time: 3 hours
- 1 (4-pound) bear roast
- 1 ½ cup red wine
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 onions (1 grated, 1 chopped)
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 6 juniper berries
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Bring the red wine, vinegar, grated onion, carrot and celery to a simmer in a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Tie the juniper berries, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns in a small cheesecloth bundle and add this bouquet garni to the pot. Remove the marinade from the heat and let cool completely before pouring over the bear roast. Marinade for a minimum of 24 hours.
- When ready to cook, remove the bear from the marinade and pat the roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and let rest. Meanwhile, heat the bacon fat in a Dutch oven and sauté the chopped onions until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the bear roast and brown on all sides.
- Strain the marinade through a fine-mesh sieve and add the liquid to the Dutch oven. Bring the liquid to a heavy simmer, then cover and transfer the pot to a 325-degree oven. Braise for 2 ½ - 3 hours, or until the roast is very tender, but not falling apart.
- Transfer the bear roast to a platter and keep warm. Strain the remaining liquid and reserve. Melt the butter in the Dutch oven and stir in the flour and sugar to create a roux. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes then whisk in the reserved liquid a little at a time. Add the golden raisins and simmer until slightly thickened.
- To serve, cut the bear roast into thick slices and pour the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Plate with traditional dumplings or spaetzle and red cabbage.
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