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Sunday dinner means one thing to me — meat.

Eating vegetarian is definitely healthy, and I can keep it up for a few meals at a time. But come Sunday dinner, meat is on the table. I don’t know if it’s a throwback to childhood Sunday steak dinners or Grandma’s Rouladen, but something about the end of a week means we should cook something coming from a cow.

German Rouladen is never just a piece of beef, though. It’s a tender beef roll, softly braised in broth with a surprise inside — pickle, red onion and gasp… bacon!

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You normally make rouladen with a tough cut of steak, the round. After an hour or so of braising, you get a tender beef roll and a flavorful gravy (which is the best part!).

I’ve never had a lot of confidence cooking meat, but then I discovered braising. When you cook a tough cut of beef like round or chuck in a small amount of liquid, it can’t be undercooked or overcooked! Not so for a steak. That’s the reason Europeans created so many versions of rouladen, like the Italian braciole and the French roulade or paupiette.

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Braciole by Our Italian Table


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Paupiette by Leite’s Culinaria

Language Lesson: In the old days, Germans made rouladen with venison or pork, and that’s why they sometimes refer to it as rinderrouladen or rindsrouladen (“rinder” meaning coming from a cow and “rouladen” meaning rolled.)

Of course a good plate of German food always includes mustard! My favorite is the sweet hot mustard; it’s smooth with some tang. This recipe calls for coarse ground Dijon which gives the beef flavor and texture.

How to Make German Rouladen

I asked the guy at the meat counter of my grocery store for help picking the right beef cut for rouladen. Some round steaks are sliced thin already. Ideally you want to be able to pound out the steak to 1/4 inch thick.

Once you cover the meat with plastic wrap, go at it with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or something similarly heavy. Then, cut the pieces into about 3 inches wide by 6 inches long.

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Now you’re ready for the good stuff. Spread mustard on one side, then layer on half a slice of bacon. Add one pickle spear per roll and several slices of red onion. Any extra fillings make an amazing late-night snack!

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Starting at the narrow end, roll up the meat and hold it in place with cooking twine or thread.

Then, get to your hot pan! Brown each beef roll on all sides, then scrape up that yummy meat stuck to the bottom. Pour in some beef stock and simmer for an hour and a half.

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I like to serve German rouladen with other essential German food like boiled potatoes and sauerkraut. This Quick Red Sauerkraut adds a fresh (and pretty!) element to the hearty meal.

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German Rouladen

Beef Rolls with Pan Gravy

About an hour of braising turns these beef rolls into an authentic German Sunday dinner.

german rouladen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. round steak, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced in half moons
  • 4 tbsp. coarse ground Dijon mustard
  • 2 and 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 dill pickle, cut into 4 spears
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Instructions

    1. Place round steak on cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound meat to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a pan. Cut into 4 equal strips, approximately 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. Salt and pepper both sides of the strips.
    2. Spread one tablespoon of mustard on top of each strip. Top with half a slice of bacon, a few slices of onion and a pickle spear.
    3. Starting on the narrow end, roll up beef, tuck in any fillings and tie with cooking twine or thread.
    4. Heat oil in large stainless steel or cast iron pan (not non-stick preferably) until hot. Brown all sides of the rolls, about 8 minutes total.
    5. Add the beef broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned pieces, or fond. Reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours or until tender.
    6. Remove meat from pan and keep warm. To make gravy: Mix flour and water together in small bowl until smooth. Pour into hot pan juices and whisk until thickened. Pour gravy over meat and serve.

    Notes

    Recipe adapted from Food.com