A German Thanksgiving (Rouladen, aka Beef Rolls)
I was thankful to be able to visit my family over the Thanksgiving weekend. Any weekend we can come together as a family is a time to celebrate, but an extra day to stay certainly helps. My mom asks what we want to eat, and there is usually no hesitation because I always ask for the same dish: Rouladen. Rouladen is a traditional southern German dish that is usually served at special occasions at our household (by request!). Succulent pieces of beef filled with only the tastiest of ingredients: pickles, onions, bacon and mustard. The roll is then smothered in a red wine sauce. It is no wonder this is such a popular dish.
I wasn’t expecting to do much cooking this weekend, as some people don’t really like to share their kitchen (ah, the horrors of strudel making on Christmas Day), but we were invited to learn the art of making rouladen. There is nothing better at bringing the family together than passing culinary secrets from one generation to another.
My mom took us under her wings, and we had to watch intently, as she was also not going to supply an accompanying recipe. This is my adaptation of the traditional dish. It is best served with spaetzle, as it sops up the gravy nicely
12 slices of Rouladen meat (approximately 1kg, ask your European butcher, but I think it is topside or round beef, thinly sliced)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
12 baby dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup mustard
12 slices of bacon
2 tbsp oil
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsp brown gravy mix
1. Unroll rouladen meat on a large surface. Add 1 bacon slice, lengthwise, and add pickles and onions liberally to cover and squirt with mustard, to taste.
2. Fold ends in, and roll tightly into a cigar-shape. Use butcher’s twine (or toothpicks) to hold together. Continue with remaining slices of meat.
3. Add oil to large shallow pan and heat over medium-high heat. Then brown each rouladen on each side. You may need to remove the finished rouladen to make room for others. Once all are browned, return to pan and add wine. Cover and braise in oven at 300F for 50-90 minutes.
4. On stovetop, remove strings or toothpicks from rouladen and set on platter. Thicken juices with gravy mix and pour overtop.
Serves 6-8 generously.