“What dish means Sunday Supper to you?” asked Isabel, my friend and fellow blogger. I immediately thought of Rouladen. Why? Because we only had it for very special family dinners on Sunday. The occasions were to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Those treasured times made memories to last a lifetime. Looking back over the years and remembering when we feasted on Rouladen warms my heart and soul. So today, a Sunday, I am re-posting this to answer Isabel’s question and share this delicious recipe again.
Note: This post was originally published on November 3, 2011.
Rouladen is my favorite German dish. It has been my favorite all my life. It is what I request my mom to make for my birthday. I have made it for my family for Christmas dinner. It is a special meal for me and not one I have often. Why? Well, one is because I love it when my mom makes it so I wait for her to make it a couple times a year. The other is finding a butcher who can cut the meat correctly. It has to be cut across the grain and about 3/16″ thick.
Finding beef already cut for Rouladen is a rarity. I was surprised when recently I spotted packs of it in the meat case. As soon as I saw it, I instantly knew what was for dinner. A special dinner for no special reason at all.
Rouladen, or meat roll-ups, is typically made from beef. I have had it made with venison in Germany but venison is not as easy to come by as beef. At least not here in the South, unless you are a deer hunter. There are not many ingredients; mainly beef, yellow mustard, salt, pepper, onion, dill pickle, either bacon or salt pork (a.k.a. fatback). I use fatback. All you do first is sprinkle the beef with salt & pepper, spread a little mustard, and put some onion, pickle, and pork on one end:
Roll up the beef starting with the end with the onion/pickle/pork and then tie them using kitchen twine (or, as my mom does, use unwaxed dental floss):
The next step is important. Browning the meat really good will give the best flavor to both the meat and the gravy. Get the pan super hot and make sure they are browned on all sides. Be prepared for splatters:
After browning, add beef broth and put a lid on to simmer/braise on low for 1½ hours. Then take the Rouladen out of the pan and remove the string. Stir in some flavor enhancer like bullion to the gravy and you can thicken it slightly using cornstarch with beef broth. The gravy is not thick, it is more like au jus.
The greatest challenge with this dish is taking a photo of it. Rouladen has a certain aesthetic that resembles something not so attractive. I am sure professional food photographers have a hard time with it. As an amateur photographer, this was a real a learning experience. I took many photos and did my best. No matter the looks, I swear Rouladen is very delicious.
Serve Rouladen with potato dumplings or spätzle, red cabbage, and perhaps some green beans or cucumber salad. Have some rolls to soak up the gravy, you will not want any of it to go to waste. Do not forget the wine!