Rouladen is a classic German dish made by rolling up lean beef cuts up with a variety of ingredients inside. The Rouladen I made included: mustard, bacon, onions, and pickles, along with some spices. While impressive on the plate and delicious on the tongue, Rouladen is surprisingly easy to prep and cook! I took my cues from Chef John over at foodwishes.com and his video below in the recipe section. I didn’t use the same exact recipe as him, but I found his video and modified as I wanted. In his own words: that’s me cooking!
This was my second attempt at making the German Classic, and definitely the better of the two. The first time I made it, I was cooking for the whole apartment – all 5 people. This really increased my prep time and made it a lot harder to coordinate everything. I made a few other mistakes that chewed up a lot of my time too.
- I bought Bauchspeck (thick, uncut bacon) instead of pre-sliced bacon. I also attempted to cut said bacon without cooling it beforehand. Big mistake. Because I couldn’t slice it thinly, I ended up only using one slice per roll, which is never enough.
- I braised the Rouladen at too high a temperature which resulted in much tougher meat, the exact opposite of the goal of braising in the first place!
This time around I learned from my previous mistakes and the meal was much better! It was still a bit tougher than I would have liked, but it turns out that even on the lowest setting on our stove (old and electric), the pot would get too hot. Instead of a very low simmer, for about 40 minutes the meat was almost at a vigorous simmer, not boiling, but bubbling way more than I liked. It wasn’t that tough, but I will have to devise a new way to cook it next time. Maybe leaving the lid cracked a bit would let some of that excess heat out. Anyways, here’s the recipe!
Rouladen: A German Classic
Ingredients for the rolls:
- 2 “Rouladen” rolls. They are premade here in Bavaria, but for those of you elsewhere, thin slices of any lean cut will do (Top Round, Bottom Round, etc.)
- Here’s a link to help you pick out and prep your beef if you’re not in Germany.
- Spicy mustard. I used a great German mustard called “Löwensenf” (Lion Mustard) in mine, but you can substitute a good Dijon here if you want. Really any spicy mustard should do!
- 4-6 slices of bacon or pancetta. This depends on how big your slices of beef are, and how much bacon you want.
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced. Yellow or white, whichever you prefer! I used Speisezweibel, just the ordinary yellow onion here.
- 2 or 3 pickles, thinly sliced
- Salt, fresh black pepper, and paprika (sweet)
- Any type of vegetable oil for browning the rolls in.
- Toothpicks or butcher’s string to keep it all together.
Ingredients for the sauces
You can definitely use only beef broth, but this turned out really well!
- 2 to 2 1/2 T butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups of beef broth
- 1/2 cup red wine
- Salt to taste
Here’s the Chef John video as promised! Take a look and give him a view to get the general idea of the process in your head. I’ve written out the steps below to keep you from tracking back and forth in the video.
- Lay out your slices of beef on a large cutting board and liberally season both sides with freshly ground salt and black pepper.
- Slather on the mustard over one side of the beef, this will be the inside of your roll. Get it alllll over.
- Place enough bacon over the mustard to make a continuous layer over the beef, but leave a couple inches clear at the “bottom” to make sure everything rolls together nicely.
- Generously season the bacon with your paprika, this not only adds flavor but a nice deep red color to the food of the gods.
- Cut the onion in half, and thinly slice to make strips and place intermittently on top of the bacon.
- Slice the pickles thinly and place in between the onion strips.
- THE ROLL! Roll up the constructed Rouladen, tucking everything inside as you go to prevent runaway onions.
- With the open side down, slide the first string under and to the middle of the Rouladen, tie a firm and simple knot, fastening the roll together! For added roll-insurance, you can add a couple more strings at both ends to keep everything in order. This is a German dish after all, so you should have a precisely constructed roll with extra Rouladenversicherung. You never know!
- Using medium-high heat, heat up a saucepan big enough to hold both rolls and the sauce together. Pour in a thin layer of vegetable oil on the bottom (I used sunflower oil).
- Once the pan is hot, place in your rolls, and brown them evenly by rolling 1/4 of the way around for about 15-20 seconds each turn.
- Remove rolls from the pan, place on a plate. Turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Melt the 2 T of butter in the pan and then add your 1/4 cup flour, whisking constantly until incorporated. Make sure to really scrape the bottom of that pan to free all the little bits of flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan. Congrats, you made a roux!
- Add in your liquid! 2 1/2 cups beef broth + 1/2 cup red wine, OR 3 cups beef broth. Stir to mix.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Carefully place your Rouladen back into the saucepan, and turn the heat down to low.
- Gently simmer for about 1.5 hours, or until the meat is tender! A sharp knife should slide in with little resistance.
- Take out the rolls, and bump up the heat to medium-high to further reduce the sauce. I only reduced it for about 5 minutes.
- Slice the Rouladen in half, on an angle to make it look purrrdy for Instagram. You’re done!
- Enjoy the fruits of your labor with your favorite sides, and of course some red wine.
Bonus gif of drenching the Rouladen with sauce:
Overall, these came out great, despite my slight over-cooking. If you want to try some German comfort food, or are just looking for a delicious meal, try it out! Learn from my mistakes and really gently simmer them so the beef is perfectly cooked and tender.