RECIPE: German Rouladen
For our family, cooking is about being together. The incredible food we make when we are together includes family favourites; it also challenges us to re-invent them to healthier choices—on occasion. This is not one of them. While this dish is fairly lean on fats, the side dishes can easily make up for it. Serve with potato dumplings or späetzle. Other sides may include braised red cabbage or sauerkraut, though not really needed.
Traditional meals vary from family to family, culture to culture. Christmas Dinner 2020 was a nod to a Christmas season we spent in Germany. Rindrouladen (beef roll), Späetzle (egg noodles), and Apfelstrudel (apple strudel with rum-soaked raisins) were the result of a day rarely spent together in the kitchen. This year, my husband John and I planned a Christmas present to each other–a day of cooking adventure– making traditional German dishes.
A TIPS/TRICKS on this one is how we got our children to palate the vegetables needed to attain flavours for recipes. Texture or visual (“I don’t like that”) issues? Not a problem. Diced and/or pureed made all the difference for our finicky eaters. The result? The flavours were there. Additionally, the children have grown up to appreciate the dishes from many cultures.
From what I have come to understand, traditional Rouladen was made with venison or pork rather than beef. This makes sense if you consider cattle-grazing lands to be scarcer in European countries versus the Americas. This recipe is made with beef. As a result, you can cook to a variety of doneness and not worry whether the food temperature is safe. I must credit The Daring Gourmet for the robust gravy for this recipe, though I have modified it to suit our preferences.
TIPS/TRICKS 1: Grind, measure, and freeze fresh root vegetables for preserving and easy recipe preparation.
TIPS/TRICKS 2: Dice/mince pickles and onions to stuff the beef wraps. Truly, the pickles help make the flavours of this dish! The diced/minced bits “disguise” the ingredients while allow the flavours to meld within the dish. By making an ingredient less distinguishable, this can mean less of the “I don’t like that” or “I don’t like the texture of . . . “. Removing the common appearance now makes it a matter of whether or not the flavour is enjoyable to an individual’s palate.
TIPS/TRICKS 3: Use remaining tomato paste to create a marinara dip, pasta sauce, etc. Or simply mix it into a prepared spaghetti sauce.
- Skillet/Dutch oven with lid (or oven-safe casserole dish w/lid)
- Cutting boards/mats (one red mat for pounding beef, one green for cutting vegetables)
- Carving knife
- Meat mallet
- Paring knife
- Holding plate/bowl for browned beef rolls
- Liquid 2-cup measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Toothpicks/Metal Skewers
- Bench scraper (optional, ideal for transferring from cutting mat to bowl/pan)
- Vegetable peeler (optional)
- Food processor (optional)
- Sieve/strainer (optional)
GERMAN ROULADEN RECIPE
NOTE: Pre-measure all ingredients, if possible.
8 slices Round Beef, approx 3/4-1 lb (sliced 3/8″ thick) – Try with Venison, Pork and Chicken, too!
8 slices Bacon
1 large yellow Onion, chopped (half reserved for robust gravy, if desired)
1 Cup Dill Pickle Slices
8 Tbs. German/Spicy Hot Mustard
Salt and pepper, as desired
For simple gravy version: Complete steps 1-5, then skip to Step 9. For a heartier, more robust gravy, the following ingredients are needed.
1/2 of the chopped Onions, minced
1/2 C. chopped Carrots, minced
1/2 C. chopped Celery, minced
1 Tbs. Salted Butter
1 Tbs. Cooking Oil
1 C. dry Red Wine
2 C. Beef Broth
1 Tbs. minced Garlic
1 Tbs. Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Coarse Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbs. Cornstarch (made into a roux/paste with melted butter/water)
Chop Onion. Reserve half of the chopped onion for the gravy portion (starts with Step 5). For beef rolls, use a food processor to mince chopped Onion and Pickle slices together. Set aside.
Using a meat mallet, pound the eight (8) Beef slices to approximately 4’x6″ each in size and 1/4″ thick. The long sides will fold over the filling before rolling from the short side.
To assemble beef rolls, evenly spread Mustard on each meat slice. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper, as desired. Place one piece of Bacon, lengthwise, on each Beef slice.
Next, evenly divide and spread Onion/Pickle mixture, lengthwise, onto the Beef avoiding the long edges which will be folded prior to rolling. Fold long edges toward center of beef slice– just enough to keep the filling from spilling out. Having toothpicks/skewers at hand, then roll each beef slice starting on the short side securing roll with skewer when at the end. Set aside and complete Step 5 before cooking begins.
Melt butter and oil in skillet/Dutch oven. Place beef rolls into hot pan, turning as needed until thoroughly browned. Remove from pan onto holding plate/bowl. (Skip to Step 9 for simple gravy.)
Combine Beef Broth, Tomato Paste, Sugar, and Salt. Mix well. Add Bay Leaf. Set aside.
Add reserved Onions and a bit more butter to the skillet. Brown Onions until soft and translucent incorporating browned beef bits from the pan. Add Garlic and cook for another minute. Add Carrots and Celery, then cook for another five (5) minutes.
Pour Red Wine into skillet and quickly bring to a boil (about 1 minute).
Stir in Beef Broth mixture (2 cups of water for simple gravy), then add browned Beef Rolls back to the pan. Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 60-90 minutes. When beef rolls are tender, remove from pan.
Step 10 – Simple or robust gravy
ROBUST GRAVY: Remove Bay Leaf. Skim/sieve vegetables from pan. Discard or puree and add back to pan, as desired.
BOTH SIMPLE AND ROBUST GRAVY: Whisk cornstarch roux into pan juices. Stirring constantly., simmer until thickened.
Remove skewers from beef rolls. Arrange on serving dish or plate. Spoon gravy over beef rolls (Rinderrouladen). Serve hot aside potatoes (mashed, cubed, dumplings) or egg noodles (Späetzle).
The simpler gravy recipe allows a fairly quick preparation time due to less ingredient preparation. The robust gravy is worth the taste, if you have the time.