In order to really experience Germany this month (as much as a person can from across an ocean), I decided to explore German cuisine. When you think of German food, do you think of Bratwurst and sausage? Well you should. Those Germans are all about their sausage. But they’re also about more, such as rouladen.
Rouladen is basically bacon, pickles, and onions rolled up in a piece of beef that’s been slathered in mustard. I know. You think…bacon and pickles together with onion and mustard? What kind of monstrosity is this? A delicious monstrosity is what it is. Then the beef roll is slow-roasted in gravy. Each German region has its one take on the recipe, some of which omit the pickle or the mustard or call for a tomato-based gravy instead of broth, but each includes the basic ingredients of beef and bacon (and really, what else do you need?).
So, naturally, I decided to try my hand at this. I started by looking up traditional recipes (no newfangled rouladen containing wild mushrooms for me—though, how good would that be?). Some of the recipes called for cooking the bacon first and then sautéing the onion in the bacon grease, others just suggested layering the bacon strips directly on top of the mustard layer and adding the onion and a pickle spear. Others suggesting dicing up everything (onion, pickle, and bacon) and spooning that onto the beef. I went for this latter option, mostly because of the ease of eating. The basic instructions are pretty easy:
- Pound a slice of chuck roast or flank steak flat
- Slather with mustard
- Add bacon, onion, and pickle mixture
- Roll up the beef, and secure with toothpicks.
If you don’t really like gravy you can stop here. Brown the rouladen in an ovenproof skillet and bake it on low in the oven. However, the gravy turns the meat tender and succulent, so I highly recommend it (besides, the gravy is amazing and perfect on mashed potatoes). After browning the meat on all sides,
- Remove the rolls from the skillet
- Add 1/4 cup of flour to the meat drippings
- Whisk in beef broth
- Allow the gravy to thicken a bit
- Place the rouladen in the gravy
- Bake the rouladen at 325 for 90 minutes.
It might be time intensive, but not hard. And the results are worth the effort. Then eat the rouladen with mashed potatoes, a traditional complement to the meat dish, and get your German on.
For those interested in making rouladen yourself, here are some recipes I found helpful:
- Oma’s Old-Fashioned Rouladen
- Olde Worlde German Beef Rouladen Rolls with Gravy (“Rindsrouladen”)
- (Almost) My Grandma’s Rouladen