This traditional German Beef Rouladen is wonderful comfort food and perfect for an Oktoberfest. Rouladen is simply tender steak, seasoned with mustard, onion and paprika and wrapped around a pickle, served with a lovely pan gravy.
I may be Canadian, but I have a long history with Oktoberfest. I spent my university years in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, where one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in North America happens every October. So as you can imagine, if you place a university student in proximity to dozens of large beer halls with lots of drink and fabulous food, it’s definitely happening. And did :)
So when I was asked by the lovely Milena of Craft Beering if I might like to cook up something for a virtual Oktoberfest celebration, I was definitely in. I thought about cooking up a traditional German dish and rouladen came to mind. You may not be familiar with rouladen, but you will certainly love the flavours of this wonderful, comfort food dish. It’s meat and potatoes, in German form. With a pickle in the middle!
Cook’s Notes for German Beef Rouladen
While Rouladen is a traditional German dish, there are as many different versions as their are German Omas. I’ve detailed some of the options in the recipe below. This is the version I love, with grainy mustard, a bit of paprika, lots of bacon (to keep it moist!), a bit of chopped onion and a pickle in the middle.
If you are lucky, you will find “rouladen” cut beef at your grocery store or butcher. Of course, when I went looking for it, there was none to be found. It’s quite easy to find very thin round steaks though, so that’s what I went with.
You may notice the pinkish in the centre of the rouladen. That’s the bacon, not undercooked beef. When checking your rouladen for done-ness, be sure to note that :)
You can serve your rouladen and gravy with mashed potatoes, German potato dumplings or spaetzle. We enjoy mashed, flavoured with a little sour cream. On the side, cooked red cabbage is very traditional.
German Beef Rouladen
For the rouladen:
- 4 boneless round steaks very thin, about 4 inches wider x 7 inches long
- Salt and pepper
- 4 Tbsp whole grain mustard or Dijon, regular yellow mustard
- 8 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup onion finely diced
- 4 baby dill pickles halved or larger dill pickles quartered. Sweet pickle is also an option here.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the gravy:
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp red wine can omit or replace with a couple of teaspoons of red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste or ketchup, in a pinch
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard or regular mustard
- Pinch paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
To thicken gravy:
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp cold water
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Prepare the rouladen by pounding out the beef until they are 1/4 inch thin and about 5 inches wide by 9 inches long. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of paprika. Spread 1 Tbsp of whole grain mustard over each of the 4 pieces of beef. Place two pieces of bacon over each piece of beef, side by side, trimming any part of the bacon that extend over the ends. Scatter each with diced onion, dividing evenly between the four pieces. With the widest end of the short side facing you, place two pickle halves end to end about 1 1/2 inches from the end. It's ok if they stick out the side at this point. Take the end closest to you and fold it up and over the pickles. Continue rolling by lifting and rolling until it is completely rolled. Take a skewer and secure the end of the roll to the main part of the roll, so it doesn't unroll. Trim any excess pickle sticking out the sides so it is even with the sides of the roll. Roll up the remaining beef pieces similarly.
- Stir together the gravy ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed, oven-proof dish with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef rolls to the pan, skewer/seam side down. Sear for a few minutes until lightly browned, then flip over and sear the other side. Place the rolls on their sides if necessary to sear the entire outside of each of the rolls.
- Once rolls are browned, add the prepared gravy mixture to the pan. Stir gently to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover pot and place in the preheated oven.
- Cook, covered in the oven until tender, about 1 - 1/2 hours (depending on the size of your rolls), flipping rolls over a couple of times during the cooking period.
- Remove pot from oven and use tongs to remove rolls to a plate. Carefully remove the skewers from the rolls and discard, then cover plate loosely with foil while you thicken the gravy.
- Place pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl and add to liquid in pot. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, until thickened. If necessary, add a bit more cornstarch/water to gravy if not thick enough. Taste gravy and add additional salt, pepper and paprika, to taste.
- To serve, cut rolls in half diagonally in the middle. Place halves on side mashed potatoes and spoon gravy over-top. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.