Love me tender: German beef roulade with gravy

Beef roulade, or ‘rolled beef’, tastes like Germany to me. I know the stereotype is more sausage and beer-themed, but as far as I’m concerned this dish should be even more so. Especially if you serve it with potato dumplings and red cabbage. It was in fact the first German dish I ever made for my American partner. It was also the meal I turned to when I cooked for his mom for the first time. Both times, the dish was made in the warmer months of the year (June and September); I would, however, say it is actually one of those amazingly cozy winter dishes and best served with a good red wine.

Serving: 4 *  Calories per serving: 587 kcal *  Preparation time: 45 min *  Start to finish: 2 hrs 15 min

DSC_0007Ingredients

  • 4 very thin slices of beef (either from the topside or the hip)
  • 2 medium-sized onions
  • 6 tablespoons of mustard
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 large or 3 medium-sized pickles
  • 1 medium-sized carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 glasses (300 ml) of red wine
  • 1 ½ cups (350 ml) of beef stock
  • 7 ounces (200 ml) of water
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Yarn

Cut the onions into halves. Put one half aside and dice up the remaining three. Afterwards, place the beef slices in front of you, salt and pepper them and lay two slices of bacon on each. Take a knife and generously spread the mustard on the bacon. Then, evenly drizzle the diced-up onions on top. Now gently roll the beef up into a tight roll and bind with a cooking-friendly yarn. A “professional German” would use roulade clamps (check them out here); you are, however, fine with just using yarn and wrapping it tightly around your meat slice.

One of the key challenges of a perfect roulade is to ensure that the meat stays as tender as possible. After trying various approaches, I stumbled upon the easiest solution: take a wok (yes, you read that right) and bring it to a high temperature. The reason why I use a wok instead of a pan or roasting dish is that it makes the beef more tender. So does adding bacon, funnily enough. For reasons that I don’t fully grasp, roulades turn out softer if you do them with bacon. So the wok and bacon are the two secret ingredients for me. But I digress. Back to business. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the rolled-up beef and turn it around to make sure it sears on all sides. By doing this at a high temperature, you close the pores of the meat and thus ensure the moisture stays inside. Afterwards add the red wine, beef stock and water. Chop the carrot and the remaining half onion, as well as the garlic cloves into larger chunks, and add them to the wok as well. What’s important here is to ensure that the entirety of the meat is covered by liquid. Cover the wok with a lid (again, to keep the moisture in) and reduce the temperature to a low medium. Then, let the beef simmer for approximately 90 minutes.

Continue by taking the roulades out of the wok, place them in a bowl and cover it with a plate to make sure they don’t cool down too much. For the gravy, add the corn starch to the wine/beef stock/water mix and use an immersion blender to get a smooth gravy base. Afterwards, let the sauce simmer on upper-medium heat for three to five minutes to thicken it up (depending on your personal thickness preference).

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