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Best Authentic German Rouladen (Beef Roll-Ups) Recipe

Old family recipes make the most satisfying meals and are always a hit with family and friends. Here are some of Stephanie's favorites.

German rouladen

German rouladen

A Family Favorite

In my husband's German family, everyone loves rouladen (German beef roll-ups). This German stuffed beef-rolls recipe is made for many special occasions. I had it for the first time when my future in-laws invited my parents to dinner to celebrate our engagement. Although very much different from the Polish- and American-style food my family was accustomed to, we all liked it instantly.

I didn't know then that this was one of my German mother-in-law's specialty dishes, but I did know that I would have to learn to make rouladen one day. Eventually, she taught me how to make it, and it was easier than I expected. I still use her recipe today.

Ingredients

  • 1–2 lbs. of flank steak or round steak (this can also be made from venison)
  • Spicy, dark mustard
  • Dill pickles cut into wedges
  • Bacon
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • A toothpick or sewing string to keep the rolls closed

Instructions

  1. You will need about 2 pounds of thinly sliced steak. Some grocery stores will carry steak sliced 1/8" thick. If not, get the thinnest cut you can find, and pound it between two sheets of plastic wrap until it's the right thickness.
  2. Cut into 3" x 6" strips. Plan on two to three pieces per person.
  3. Lay meat on a board and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread with a light coating of spicy mustard.
  5. Lay half a strip of bacon lengthwise on the meat, and then place a dill pickle wedge crosswise near one end.
  6. Roll the meat into rolls starting at the pickle end, and then tie with some white sewing thread or fasten with a wooden toothpick.
  7. In a heavy skillet, sauté onion in butter or oil, and then brown the meat rolls in the pan.
  8. After the rolls are browned, add a quarter cup of red wine to the skillet to deglaze it, and then add 2 cups of water.
  9. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. This can also be cooked in a pressure cooker at 10 lbs. pressure for about 30 minutes.
  10. When finished cooking, remove rouladen to a bowl.
  11. Carefully remove string or toothpicks so that rolls don't fall apart. Mix about 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/2 cup of water and whisk into the pan juices, cooking until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Pour gravy over rouladen. Serve with red cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Ethnic Foods Are Family Traditions

Some foods, particularly ethnic foods, become a part of a family's traditions and bring back memories of happy family gatherings and good times. Rouladen and sauerbraten are two of those dishes in my husband's German family.

Each of these meals brings back memories of his mother's joy as she shared her cooking with her five children and, later, their spouses and thirteen grandchildren at big family gatherings. Either of these dishes are great winter recipes, though we're happy to eat them any time of year. I remember her serving either rouladen or sauerbraten on New Year's Day and at special birthday dinners.

These days, when I cook one of these traditional German recipes, I'm sure to play some German music to get us all in the mood and offer some German beer, dark bread and butter, and pickled herring before dinner. On very special occasions, Black Forest cake is served for dessert!

What Can I Serve With Rouladen?

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet and sour red cabbage
  • Potato dumplings (Knoedel)
  • Spaetzel (homemade noodles)
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Apple strudels
  • Black Forest cake
Black Forest cake for dessert.

Black Forest cake for dessert.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is rouladen always made with pickles in Germany? Or is it regional?

Answer: It's possible that using pickles in rouladen is regional in Germany, but I would argue that the dish would lose the distinctive, slightly sour flavor if the pickles were omitted. I've only had it with pickles in the rolls. However, each cook has the option of altering the recipe to his/her taste preferences.

Question: Potato dumplings are potato dumplings. Are spaetzle homemade noodles?

Answer: Yes, spaetzle are a thick homemade noodle. They are yummy with rouladen or sauerbraten, or any meat dish with gravy!

Question: Do I precook the bacon?

Answer: No, the bacon is raw. It will cook with the rest of the mean during the cooking process.

Question: Is your black forest cake recipe a genuine recipe?

Answer: The recipe I have posted is one that I've made many times for my family to enjoy, so it's a real recipe. However, it's not something that was handed down to me through generations.

© 2010 Stephanie Henkel