My German beef fest
Back when I was a young bride, living in what was then West Germany, I was taught to cook two basic meals by Hanno's mum - Kartoffel Puffer or potato pancakes and Fleish Rouladen - stuffed beef rolls. Over the years I've probably made hundreds of Kartoffel Puffers, they're a regular in our house and everyone I serve them to loves them. We went off meat for a long time and ate only vegetarian meals for about eight years but now we're back eating meat and I've re-discovered Beef Rouladen. I think Frau Anni Hetzel would be very pleased. I know her son is.
This is a relatively cheap meal and although it's easy to make and thought to be quite unsophisticated as a main meal, I am standing up to say it's a favourite here and for that reason, I'd like to share it with you. When we get our bulk meat order, I always ask the butcher to thinly slice the round steak for me which I package as two slices per bag. I used two bags for this, four slices, so we could eat it one night and serve it again the next night.
You'll need one slice per person of thinly sliced beef steak. It can be one of the tougher cuts because it will be slowed cooked and will become tender during that process. So if you have blade or topside, or round, they're ideal. If the slice is not so thin, cover it with freezer wrap and thin it out with a meat mallet, making sure you don't belt the living daylights out of it and make holes in the beef. You'll need toothpicks or kitchen string to tie up the rolls and a frying pan with a lid that can go into the oven. If you don't have one, you'll need a frying pan, then an oven proof dish with a lid.
Large onion, chopped
Mushrooms, any kind, sliced
2 rashes/slices bacon
Salt and pepper
Mustard - optional
Plain/all purpose flour
Sour cream - optional
Sour cream - optional
- Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry in a pan until cooked. Take off the heat and drain. Keep the pan on the stove as you'll cook the meat in it soon.
- Place your beef on a board and cut off any fat. Thin the slice out with a meat mallet if it needs it.
- If you're using the mustard, spread about a teaspoon of it over the meat slice.
- Place some bacon, onion and mushrooms on the beef slice, add salt and pepper and roll it up tightly. Secure with string or a toothpick.
- When all the rolls are prepared, place them in the pan you browned the bacon in. If you have any onion or mushrooms left over, put them in the pan too; they'll add more flavour to the sauce.
- Brown the meat on all sides. Take some time with this step - this is where you add the most flavour to the meat and sauce. All that caramelisation on the meat and on the bottom of the pan is the flavour. If you don't brown the meat long enough, the meat won't caramelise, if you do it too fast, it will burn and become bitter. Take your time.
- When you're happy with the browning of the meat, add two tablespoons of plain/all purpose flour and stir into the pan juices. Add some salt and pepper then allow the floury juices to develop some colouring.
- When everything is combined and the flour is brown, add enough water to come half way up the side of the rolls. Put the lid on, bring it up to the boil, then put the pan in the oven to cook slowly (175C/350F) for 45 - 60 minutes.
Beef Roulladen is traditionally eaten with red cabbage and potatoes so out to the backyard I went and picked some. We had a few small red cabbages that won't grow much now that the warmer weather is here so I picked them all.
- To cook the red cabbage, place a sliced onion and two rashers/slices of bacon in a frying pan and cook until golden.
- Add the chopped red cabbage to the bacon and onion, add about ½ cup water, salt and pepper to your taste and cook for five minutes or until the cabbage wilts. Then add one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of vinegar and stir in. Bring this back to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
- To thicken the cabbage, mix 1 tablespoon of cornflour with ¼ cup of water and pour it over the red cabbage. Stir it in well, bring back to the boil, slowly, then simmer for a further five minutes.
Check the beef rolls after they've been cooking for ¾ hour. They'll be ready when they're tender and the sauce is brown and nicely thickened. Take them out of the oven and on to the stove top. If the sauce is not as thick as you would like, with the lid off, put it on the heat on the stove top, and let the sauce reduce for a few minutes. Just before serving, I added some sour cream to the sauce but this is optional.
Our beef Rouladen was served with crushed potatoes, with butter and parsley, and the red cabbage. We felt like we were dining in Hamburg.
Some cooks add dill pickles to the stuffing and although it's delicious, I prefer the mushrooms and it was the way my mother-in-law showed me, so that's what I stick to. If you have no potatoes, you could serve this with dumplings. Please don't add any soup mix or stock cubes to this recipe, it is full flavoured just with the water and the pan juices. The bonus is this meal as no preservatives or artificial colourings and flavours that are usually added to soup mix and stock cubes.
I hope you try it. If you do, let me know and give me your blog link so I can see what you did and if your family enjoyed it.
ADDITION: My recipe for kartoffel puffer is here.