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!
WHAT I USED
- 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
- 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
HOW I MADE IT
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.
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.
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.”)
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.
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.
FOR THE GRAVY
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!)