Rouladen are the German version of the classic French roulade, or the Italian braciole.

There was once a German restaurant in my neighborhood, with an enormous, ornate wooden bar. On a snowy day I used to call the second they opened to reserve the giant table in the front window. There, over multiple platters of potato pancakes and steins of beer, my friends and I would hold court and watch the snow plows and kids with sleds slide by.

Sadly, this relic of old Hoboken is long gone, but even a small dusting of snow gives me an itch for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kinda meal. 

Rouladen are the German version of the classic French roulade, or the Italian braciole. A tough cut of meat is rolled up with flavorful ingredients – here, a pickle! – and braised in a rich broth for a few hours. The result is a delightfully tender bit of beef that will be sure to warm you on a cold day. Just tell everyone to watch out for the toothpicks!

German Rouladen

6 pieces beef top round (about 2 1/4 lbs. total), sliced thinly*

6 teaspoons whole grain mustard

6 slices bacon

3 dill pickles

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 rib celery, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled, trimmed, and finely diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups low-sodium beef broth

2 cups red wine


*Thinly sliced top round beef is often sold as ‘braciole’

  1. Set up your beef assembly line  Line up the slices of beef on your workspace, with the narrow end of the beef furthest away from you.
  1. Place one teaspoon of mustard on each slice of beef. Spread it evenly down each slice of beef.
  1. Lay a slice of bacon lengthwise down the middle of each slice of beef, over the mustard.
  1. Slice each pickle in half lengthwise. Place half a pickle on top of each slice of bacon.  It should be perpendicular to the bacon, about an inch or two down from the wide end of the beef. 
  1. Spoon one teaspoon of chopped onions onto the beef, below the pickle. 
  1. Starting with the end closest to you, fold the beef over the pickle and roll it up tightly. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat on remaining slices of beef, until the rouladen have all been formed. 
  1. Place a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, followed by the rouladen. Brown the rouladen on all sides, then remove to a plate. 
  1. Add the remaining onion, carrot, and celery to the pan. Sprinkle one teaspoon of kosher salt over the veggies.  Sauté until the onion is translucent, about five minutes.  
  1. Stir the tomato paste and garlic into the pot.  
  1. Pour the red wine and beef broth into the pot, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the rouladen to the pot, bring to a low simmer, and cover. 
  1. Cook the rouladen, turning occasionally, for two and a half hours, or until tender. Scoop them out of the pot, and crank up the heat to high.  Reduce the sauce by about half. Return the rouladen to the pot, and spoon some sauce over them.  Serve hot.

This recipe will yield six servings. 

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