Monday, August 6, 2012


Reminiscing of our apartment in Unterwittighausen (my husband made up a song to help us remember how to say it) brings with it two distinct culinaray memories.  The first, one I would just as soon forget, involves a lonely Christmas Eve spent with American neighbors and a bland, runny gruel they called dressing. The second, involves an 18-year old German neighbor eagar to practice her English.  Her mother had done better by her in the kitchen than that of my American neighbor teaching her a thing or two about flavor. How did she know I was one of the few Americans that was eagar to share international kitchen secrets - the locals always seemed to sniff me out!  Rouladen - our first foray, is a beef roulade, or rolled, filled meat.  The required ingredients, round steak, thinly sliced, bacon, onions, mustard and paprika were no problem but when it came to pickles, my mentor couldn't remember the word in English. 

After a series of hand gestures that sent me the puzzled yet intrigued student looking for a baseball bat, she searched through my fridge and pulled pickles out. The beef rolls slowly braised in wine and broth develop rich soothing flavors like the best beef stews, but the paprika and pop of the pickles and mustard declare a Germanic slant. Though I was taught to lay a raw piece of bacon on the pounded beef, I now cook my bacon first and crumble it atop each roulade - to avoid fatty encounters.  Braised to fork tenderness the rolls are served with egg noodles or for the really authentic version, with spaetzle - recipe and discussion at the bottom of the blog.

Beef  Rouladen
8 thinly sliced pieces round steak or beef sliced for stir-fry (pounded to about 8 inches by 4 inches each, 1/4 inch thick)
1/3 cup spicy brown mustard or grey poupon
1 cup slivered onions
1/2 pound bacon, diced, fried until crisp and drained
1 cup chopped dill or kosher pickles
paprika, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil
flour for coating
2 cups beef consome
1 cup red wine
sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup halved button mushrooms, sauted in 2 tab. butter
1/3 cup cream

-Saute onion in 2 tab oil until soft and caramel color, stirring occasionally, over low heat - about 15 minutes.

-Lay each piece round steak on working surface and pound to 1/4 inch thinkness, about 8 inches by 4 inches.  Spread mustard on each slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and generously with paprika.  Add 1 1/2 tab. chopped pickles and 1 1/2 tab. caramelized onions and 1 1/2 tab. bacon bits at one short end of each piece. 

-Roll meat tightly over the filling and secure with toothpicks or string.  Dip each roll into flour until well coated.

-Heat 1/4 cup oil in dutch oven.  Lay rolls into hot oil and fry, turning, until rolls are brown on all sides. 

-Add consomme and wine  and bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover pot and lower heat to low, or until broth is just simmering.  Stir in 1 sprig fresh thyme. Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until rolls are fork tender. 

-Carefully remove rolls from broth and set aside.  Turn broth to high and cook down until thickened and glossy.  Stir in cream at room temperature.  Add mushrooms.  Adjust seasonings.  Return rolls to broth and gently heat through.

-Serve over egg noodles or spaetlze.  Garnish with fresh pinch of thyme.  Serves 4 - 8

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