South Dutch pickled meat

South Dutch pickled meat

Zuurvlees, or zoervleisj as it is called here down south, is a dish traditionally made of pickled horse meat. Nowadays the horse meat is usually substituted by beef, which only slightly alters the taste. Some of you might know this dish as “Sauerbraten”, a German dish served with potatoes.

‘Round the year of 1800, the French, who had invaded our land, slaughtered their old horses. Old horse meat is very chewy, so the meat was pickled to make it tender again. The rich didn’t want to eat this, because horse meat was waste and they could afford beef and pork. The poor used horse meat to make the dish we now know as zuurvlees. They used apple butter and ontbijtkoek to make it less acidic. Later on, as spices became less and less expensive, they started to add bay leaf, juniper and cloves.


  • 600gr beef (roomtemperature)
  • 50gr butter
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 200ml water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 junipers
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 onions
  • 3 slices of gingerbread or ontbijtkoek
  • 4tbsp apple butter
  • 1tbsp dark brown sugar
  • sugar, salt and pepper to taste

Cut the meat into cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat half of the butter in a casserole and add the meat. Cook until you can’t see raw meat anymore, you might want to cook the meat in two rounds. Put the spices in a tea filter or cheesecloth and bind it with a food safe string or clip. Add the warm water and the vinegar to the meat and bring to a boil. Add the lid and simmer for about an hour on low heat.

Chop the onion, heat the rest of the butter in a frying pan and cook the onion. Cut the gingerbread into cubes and add the onions, gingerbread and apple butter to the meat. Simmer for another 1,5 hours. Remove the spice bag and add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fries and  mayonnaise!

          Happy Cooking!

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