Husband's birthday is this coming weekend, and I've promised to make him the Good Eats sauerbraten (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip... ). This calls for a marinade involving water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, veggies, bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, and mustard seeds. Unfortunately, it looks as though I may be unable to get my hands on the juniper berries; our local grocery stores don't have much in the way of "exotic" ingredients, and I won't have time to get anything from Penzey's.
Could I just drop a shot of gin in towards the end of the cooking process (of the marinade, not the whole cooking process), or would that be horrible? Would it be dreadful to leave the juniper berries out altogether? Is there something else I could substitute?
I always use gin when juniper berries are called for, and although I'm not an expert, it always tastes great. You can taste the difference.
My recipe for sauerbraten doesn't use the berries, but I always substitute beer for the wine, so who am I to talk! I wouldn't be afraid to put the gin in first, but again I don't cook my marinade, just stick the meat in it for 3 days as is.
I've done it and while someone might notice the difference, I didn't. But at least one of those big national brand spice companies put it out (the expensive one with the glass jars - don't remember the name), don't just assume it won't be available, it's not a recent "exotic" import, at least not in the Northeast.
If you really want the juniper flavor, give it a little dot of gin. It certainly couldn't do any harm. As you were reducing the marinade, it would do to cook off the alcohol as well so that's a plus.
Otherwise, there are hundreds of recipes for sauerbraten, not all of which contain juniper. If you had to leave it out altogether, it would not be the end of the world!