Roulade, with oven roasted potatoes and beer gravy

In an incredibly uncharacteristic move, I decided to cook some German food.
In the past, I have been known to say “German food sucks! I hate German food! Why isn’t German food good?” Of course I’m sure there is plenty of great German food, but I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing much of it. Most of what I cook (and much of what I eat) are variations on Mexican foods. I eat a lot of beans and tortillas; my chile consumption is quite high.. I put raw white onions, lime, and cilantro on everything.
I decided I should try making something new, something out of my comfort zone. Something made with meat and beer, cooked like my German ancestors might have cooked. I recently had some fairly good roulade in Frankenmuth, Michigan, which inspired me to see if I could do better. (..And when I say better, I mean more palatable to me- more seasoning, more intense, just more.)
So this was my little experiment. Roulade is basically flattened meat rolled around a pickle, braised, and served with or without gravy. I decided to pack some more stuff in there, cook it in beer, and make a nice gravy. It turned out so great, I want to share it!

  • Beef – I got some of those pre-“tenderized” flat-ish steaks from the grocery store. I don’t know what cut it was, I just wanted a flat cut of beef. It worked great
  • Pickles
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Mustard – I forgot to buy mustard seed, or else I would have made my own spicy mustard… instead I just used regular yellow mustard. It was fine.
  • Fresh dill – I don’t think this is traditional but I loved it (makes sense to me! pickles and dill- a great combo)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Beef stock – I like the “better than bullion” stock concentrate stuff. I have a hard time dealing with all that liquid when I make my own stock, so I keep this stuff in the fridge.
  • Bay leaves
  • Bell’s Porter – I’m sure any dark ale would be great here, but the porter was especially delicious.
  • Toothpicks – next time I’ll get some kitchen twine
  • Oil – I used olive oil
  • Flour

1) I put a cut ziplock bag on top of the meat and took one of those meat hammers to it. I felt a little bad beating up perfectly innocent meat like that, but I enjoyed it in a weird way. Also, it helped make the beef thinner and easier to wrap.

The ingredients

2) On top of the beef, I spread some mustard, then a pickle, some carrots, onion, garlic, dill, and salt and pepper. I know you’re “not supposed to cook dill,” but it was a little experiment and loved the slight green flavor it added to the finished dish.
Ready to be rolled up (except I forgot the pickle and had to unroll and reroll..)

3) To keep everything in place, I stuck in a bunch of toothpicks. Traditionally, the internet tells me, one uses kitchen twine. I only had regular twine, and toothpicks seemed easier. So I did that.

4) I assembled this around 7am and it hung out in the fridge until I was ready to start cooking. I think it would have been fine if I immediately threw these guys in a pan.
I heated up my big deep cast iron pan, threw in a little oil, and nicely browned these guys as much as I could. I immediately realized why toothpicks wasn’t the best idea, since it was impossible to brown the tops.
5) Once browned, I poured in an entire Bell’s Porter and some beef stock, such that the liquid came almost to the top of the rouladen. (Apparently “rouladen” is the plural of “roulade.”)
Pan deglazed with beer… mmm Bell’s beer

6) I brought it to a boil, then plopped it in a 250-400°F oven. I say 250-400°F because our oven is wildly inaccurate and I don’t have a thermometer inside like I should, so I really have no idea what the temperature was. I put an oven-proof lid on the pot, and just made sure the liquid was just slightly simmering. I didn’t want to boil the meat to death, I just wanted to give it a nice beer bath.
7) After two hours, I took off the lid and cooked some more. I took off the lid so the oven could do it’s work on the tops of the rouladen. Cooked them for a while more.
Mmmm cast iron

8) Once they looked nice and delicious, I carefully took them out of the cast iron pan and placed them in a different oven-safe pan, and put them back in the oven to keep warm.
9) In yet another pan (the third, if you’re counting) I heated up a few splashes of olive oil. Then I threw in a tablespoon of flour, and whisked it around until it looked golden and delicious. After cooking that for a minute or two, getting rid of that floury taste, I ladled in the beef drippings from the cast iron pan.
Right before my eyes, a gravy took shape. Whisking like a madman, the strange looking paste-like substance was transformed into a deliciously thick beef gravy. A beer gravy.

Tasting it, I decided to add a bit more salt and a couple turns of fresh ground black pepper. It tasted like beef, strangely and wonderfully like mushrooms; there was still a hint of porter in there too. Amazing!
10) To serve, I ladled the gravy over the rouladen, accompanied by oven-roasted potatoes. (Cut up potatoes, cover with a bit of oil and thyme, throw in another cast iron pan in a very hot oven for 30 minutes. Turned out great!)

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