My family’s roots are primarily German, and my grandparents/great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. during a time when coming to America meant leaving the culture of your native country behind. They came to the U.S. and went to a part of Ohio that has a large German population, so my parents grew up with reminders of their heritage – mom can’t stand polka music to this day because that’s what they played at all the weddings. Then, my parents moved to southern Colorado and later had me, and by then my family only had a few little bits of German culture remaining.
One of the things that survived was rouladen. Every now and then, mom made some rouladen and, until I was in high school, I couldn’t stand it. Rouladen is made with a combination of ingredients that my younger self wanted nothing to do with – strips of beef slathered with mustard, topped with bacon, and rolled around a pickle. These days, I find it quite delicious, but it was an acquired taste.
When I was thinking of a name for my blog, I wanted something that would be unique and personal. After a lot of different ideas, Rouladen was the one that stuck. It ties me to my family and my roots. It reminds me that some things have to be grown into, and it goes well with mashed potatoes.
If you’d like to try making rouladen yourself, there are many different recipes out there with all kinds of variations you might light. But, if you want to get started the easy way, here’s how I make it. Note: the measurements aren’t precise because it depends on how big of a roast you get and how much you like pickles, etc. The key is proportion – one pickle, one bit of bacon, and a blob of mustard per strip of beef.
Ingredients & supplies
1 beef roast – the type is up to you
1 package of bacon
mustard (between half a cup and a cup)
dill pickle spears (about 1/4 to 1/2 a jar)
broth or white wine
toothpicks or cooking twine
1. Slice your beef roast into thin strips between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. I like to slice the roast when it’s half frozen because having firm meat makes it much easier. Alternately, you can ask the butcher to slice it for you.
2. Take your bacon out and slice the strips in half so they are half the length they started out.
3. Take a handful of pickles and cut them into thirds. You want one third of pickle for each slice of beef.
4. Lay your strips out (I like to just cover the counter with aluminum foil and put the slices on the foil for easy clean up) and slather them with mustard.
5. Place one piece of bacon on top of each strip of beef and put a pickle at the end. At this point, here’s what you’ll have:
6. Roll up each strip with the pickle in the middle. (You want to roll them up fairly tightly.) Secure each roll with a toothpick or twine.
7. Lay the rolls one layer deep in your slow cooker (helps to have a large one). Pour enough broth over top to just barely cover all the rolls. (Or, if you’re using wine, pour over a half & half mixture of wine and water.)
8. Cook on low for a few hours.
You’ll know the rouladen is done when it’s nice and tender. You can use the juices (there will be a lot) to make a really nice gravy. The liquid will have a good amount of fat in it, thanks to the bacon, so feel free to skim it off or just enjoy a nice rich gravy, depending on your preference.
Here’s what your rouladen will look like when finished. Enjoy!