I would like to thank one of our regular Corn Nation readers for submitting this recipe. He said that his Grandma used to make it and now he makes it for his family.
From Wikipedia, Rinderrouladen is:
German meat dish, usually consisting of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then cooked. The dish is considered traditional also in the Upper Silesia region of Poland where it is known as rolada śląska (Silesian roulade) and in the Czech Republic where it is known as španělský ptáček (spanish bird).
Rouladen are usually served with either potato dumplings or mashed potatoes and pickled red cabbage. Roasted winter vegetables are another common side dish. The gravy is an absolute requirement to round off the dish and is usually poured over the meat. Spätzle are a good complement to the dish since they soak up the gravy well.
First, I started by caramelizing two onions. Those smelled so good. And tasted so good. Yum.
We cut the recipe in half. Instead of four pounds of beef top round, we only purchased two. The result of attempting to cut 1⁄4 inch thick slices was that we had four relatively uneven (in terms of thickness) beef slices to work with.
Then comes the fun part. Pounding (tenderizing) the meat. I’ve done this numerous times with other meats but this is the first time I asked my six year old to join in.
He thought it was fun.
After pounding them out to help make the meat more even across the slice we seasoned them with salt, pepper and paprika. Then inserted a slice of bacon, swiss cheese, some of the caramelized onions and (gulp) a pickle.
The pickle is important and I’ll address that later.
Then we rolled up the meat with the filling and used a string to bundle them up. After browning the meat on the sides I let the meat sit on a plate as I poured in beef stock.
Here’s a cooking tip: Almost every time you brown meat in a pan, there is almost always the opportunity to use liquid to take advantage of all that brown stuff left in the plan. This is called deglazing. Usually the brown stuff can turn into a sauce or gravy. In this recipe they used beef stock, while other use chicken stock, wine or even water. The brown stuff in the pan from the browning of the meat has a tone of flavor. Make sure and use a wooden spoon to scrap up the brown bits.
Moving on. Then I placed the meat back into the pan. Brought it up to a boil, lowered the heat and then simmered, covered, for 45 minutes.
In the meantime my wife made the spatzle. She made a pasta dough from a recipe she found online. After making the dough she used our colander to push the dough though the holes into a pot of boiling water.
This was a new experience for us. It worked. Some recipes called to saute the spatzle after it is cooked in the water, but some do not. For whatever reason, my wife did not want to saute the spatzle.
After 45 minutes has elapsed, I pulled out the meat again and set it on a plate. Then using some of the remaining stock and mixing it with corn starch I poured the mixture into the pan to thicken it. This is going to turn into a gravy.
We waited for a bit as the gravy reduced. When we decided it was time I poured some of the gravy over both the meat and the spatzle (which sucked it right up) and served.
Okay. Back to the Pickle Issue.
I do not like pickles at all. So much so that my wife will add pickles to some of her food just so she knows I won’t eat her leftovers. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.
To be fair to the recipe, when it comes to adding the pickle the recipe says, “if desired.”
I did not desire it. However, we have a rule at our house and when trying a new recipe, we follow the recipe regardless. Which means the pickle must stay.
In fact, I have learned enough about cooking over the past several years that I completely understand why that pickle is in the recipe. The acid from the pickle is there to cut through all the richness of the beef, bacon, onions and cheese.
It makes sense and it should be in there. Even if I don’t like it.
One realization I had when writing this article it is that some of these recipes have been passed down for generations. So the people who send them to me probably love the recipe as they have been eating it for years. And the person making their meal likely has perfected it. Practice makes perfect.
This is a one time shot for me, which means mistake will likely be made.
For me, I’m giving it 3.5/5 stars. And a lot of it has to do with the pickle. Also, I do not think I seasoned the meat enough on both sides like I should have. Also (there are multiple), I should have pounded the meat out thinner. I think that would have helped. Also, I didn’t let the gravy reduce as long as I should have. Also, I should have trimmed some of the fat off the meat first as well.
The fails keep on coming.
The biggest mistake was the gravy. I spooned it over the meat and spatzle too early. If I would have been patient (it’s hard with kids who are hungry) to wait for the gravy to continue to reduce then it could have made a world of difference.
This is the issue with reviewing a recipe only after making it once. So I think my rating could have been higher if I took out the pickle and did a better job of cooking the meal.
But this is what I wanted. I wanted to try ethnic meals from families that are considered “Nebraska Inspired.” Even if I make mistakes in the process. When I screw up I’ll let you know.
Thanks again to our out-of-state Nebraska fan for the submission!
Verdicts from the Others
Wife: “I thought it was very good (she likes pickles). I liked all of the flavors together especially the bacon and onions. The pickle wasn’t overpowering. I’d probably add another slice of cheese. It was fun to make.”
Six Year Old: “It was kind of chewy. I don’t like the onion. That’s all. I did like the noodles. They were just yummy.”
Three Year Old: “I like meatballs and I like new plates.” (Mom redirects) “I liked the noodles.”
Here’s the Recipe
- 4 large sweet onions sliced
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 4 lb beef top round cut into 1/4-inch thick by 8-inch long slices, pounded until tender
- 1 tsp paprika
- sea salt
- whole black peppercorns freshly ground
- 1 lb hickory-smoked sliced bacon
- Sliced baby swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup oil
- 3 cups beef stock (reserve 3 tbsp for cornstarch mixture)
- 1 tsp fresh flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- German pickle slices
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- additional chopped parsley for garnish
- Caramelize onions in 3 tablespoons oil; set aside to cool. Place pounded slices of beef on cutting board and work with them one at a time.
- Season each beef slice with paprika, sea salt and pepper to taste. Line each piece with 1 slice of swiss, 1 slice of bacon, 1 tablespoon caramelized onions and 1 slice pickle, if desired. Roll the beef around the filling, folding in the sides until it becomes a bundle. Tie each bundle with string in 2 places or seal with toothpick to secure; set aside. Repeat until all meat slices are used. (Reserve any leftover onions to later place in the sauce.)
- Heat large, heavy, stainless-steel skillet over medium heat for 1 minute; add 1/4 cup oil. Increase heat to high; add some of beef bundles without covering entire surface of pan. Sear bundles until golden on each side; remove from pan to plate. Repeat until all bundles are seared.
- Take 3 tablespoons out of the 3 cups beef stock; refrigerate for later. Reduce heat to low in skillet; add remaining beef stock. Return all beef bundles to the skillet; add 1 teaspoon parsley and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bundles to serving platter; remove string.
- Stir cornstarch and reserved 3 tablespoons beef stock in cup; stir into skillet to thicken pan juices. Bring to low boil; cook, stirring constantly until thick and glossy, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Ladle gravy over rouladen and garnish with additional chopped parsley.
Note: My family LOVES this dish with the potato cakes (next), but it is traditionally served with spatzle. Also, the bacon can be subbed with deli ham very effectively. Some of my family members (aka kids) feel the bacon is too smoky in the dish.