According to the wikipedia, Rouladen are “bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then cooked”. This is basically correct, but tells you nothing about the taste and texture. Let alone the sauce. And of course, there are millions of recipes – almost every German hausfrau has their own. I, for example, like to keep the onions in the sauce, not in the rolls. And the sauce is based on red wine, which I happen to like very much and have known since childhood.
My mother-in-law on the other hand, makes the sauce with tons of mustard. And my grandmother used to make a simple brown sauce. Over the years, I have developed quite a mixture of all of those recipes. Serve it with any starch you like, but I prefer either mashed potatoes or spaetzle.
9 very flat pieces beef, from the round
9 tablespoons Dijon mustard
9 slices bacon
9 cornichons or small gherkins
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle red wine
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup cream
This is really easy: lay out the meat slices and smear on the mustard. Not too thick, but you want to use quite a bit. Then lay on 2-3 slices of bacon and some gherkins.
I know, all my cooking boards are too small. Well, sometimes it gets messy.
Then just roll it up like a spring roll and secure the end some way or another. There are tons of ways of doing this, but I like to simply use a wooden skewer. But you could also go for butcher’s twine, metal skewers or those special Rouladen clamps they sell in every German household store. But those look more than torture devices than actual useful cooking items.
Then heat up your favorite large pot on medium-high, drizzle in some oil and sear the rolls nice and brown from all sides. No need to get the meat done, it will be cooked long enough later. Get them out on a plate and set it aside.
Chop up the onions and carrots roughly and brown them in the same pot you just seared the meat.
Drop in the tomato paste and let it bubble up for a minute or so. This is to caramelize some sugars. And caramel is always good.
Then deglaze with a glass of wine or so. Deglazing means: pour in the wine and let it bubble up. Then scrape around the bottom of the pot until you have loosened all the brown stuff. The brown stuff makes the sauce yummy. That’s the whole secret.
OK, fill in the rest of the red wine – and remember: never cook with anything that you wouldn’t drink. No need to to go for the expensive stuff. But if you don’t like the wine, you’ll probably won’t like the sauce.
Then park the meat rolls in the sauce and add the rest of the mustard as well as salt, pepper and bay leaves. Let it cook/simmer on low for around 2 hours.
The meat should be tender and slightly fall apart. Get it out of the pot – again! – but this time on a heated platter.
Time for the cream and the immersion blender. Well, first get the bay leaves out and throw them away, they have given all they got. Then hit it with the blender and make a nice and creamy sauce. Give it a taste, maybe some more salt? Some drops of lemon juice? A bit more red wine?
Tastes good? Then serve the Rouladen with LOTS of sauce. And perhaps a glass of wine. You remembered to buy a second bottle? Right?