Rouladen is one of my absolute favorite German dishes. My mom was born and raised in Munich, Germany so every time I am home, I always request that she cook a traditional, German meal for me to chow down. Even though I’m the one who went to culinary school to be a classically trained chef, my mom is one of the best cooks I know and she can whip up some amazing meals in the kitchen. It’s delicious meals like these that remind me to spend more time with my mom in the kitchen.
One of my dear friends recently emailed me a letter written by Alton Brown after his grandmother passed away. His grandmother was a passionate cook and had some delicious, homemade recipes of her own. No, she wasn’t a classically trained chef who knew the meaning of egg coagulation or anything about the maillard reaction like her grandson, but she knew how to cook from the heart. Just like my mom. After she passed, Alton wanted to search through her recipe box for her famous biscuit recipe but to his surprise, it wasn’t there. His grandmother didn’t need to write down her recipes because they came from the heart. She could make biscuits in her sleep. It is a bittersweet reminder that no matter how busy our lives get, we must make it a point to spend time with our loved ones whether it be in the kitchen, working in an automobile garage, at the family pawn shop, wherever. Life is too short to not savor the precious moments we have with our loved ones. Just like Alton’s grandmother, my mother does not write down her family recipes, either. So, I will be making much more of an effort to learn these special recipes so I can always keep them in the family.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, rouladen is a German meat dish consisting of bacon, onion, and mustard wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is usually braised in a skillet or pressure cooker. We actually had to prepare and cook rouladen in my “Cuisines Across Cultures” class at Le Cordon Bleu. It is a hearty meal with so much flavor and with a few, additional ingredients, you can produce a beautiful sauce to go along with it. Next time you are cooking dinner for family and/or friends, bring your table all the way to Germany with this amazing, super flavorful dish. You’ll be pleased and your dinner guests will be blown away.
For this recipe you will need:
3 (1-pound) packages 1/2″-thick top round steaks
1 small onion, thinly sliced
6 slices bacon, cut in half
2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
Toothpicks, for securing
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 cup water
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Salt and Pepper to taste
First, cut the steaks in half lengthwise and place between sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap or wax paper. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, flatten the steaks to a 1/4″ thickness. Evenly spread a thin layer of mustard onto the steak and place a couple slices of bacon and onion on top. Roll up each steak strip, starting with a short end, and secure with a toothpick. Repeat the same process for each steak strip.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add each steak roll and brown heavily on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the steak rolls and transfer to a plate. Add 1 cup of water and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release the flavored brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Then, add the beef stock and tomato paste and whisk until the tomato paste has dissolved. The tomato paste acts as a thickener and will give the sauce a beautiful color. Return the steak rolls to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and cook covered for 1.5 hours, or until tender.
We love to serve our rouladen with homemade spaetzle, potato salad, or red cabbage. This recipe definitely has the perfect flavors and can be enjoyed any night of the week. I recommend making a big batch and saving some for leftovers. I hope you love this traditional, German meal. Alles Gute zum Appetit!