Tomatoes in the Rouladen?

My mom is German and moved to the United States after she married my dad who was stationed there during the war.  My mom is also an amazing cook.  One of her specialties is a German dish called Rinderrouladen or Rouladen for short. Braised beef rolls.  They are a family favorite at our house and often times enjoyed only on special occasions.  It was my daughter’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to make her something special for dinner so this was a perfect choice.


Rouladen is not hard to make and the flavor combination of these simple ingredients is a real winner.  There are many different variations of this recipe but I am going to share the one I grew up with and the one I continue to make for my family. The one that has absolutely no tomatoes in it at all.  Never has and never will. (family joke)

You will need:

  • 4 slices of round steak, sliced thin
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • Dijon mustard
  • beef stock
  • salt, pepper
  • flour
  • kitchen string or toothpicks

Lay meat out flat on your work surface.  You want nice thin slices like for a scallopini so you may have to pound them a little with a meat mallet or rolling pin.  Its also a good idea to cover your surface with wax paper before you start because these can be a tad messy to make.  If your beef rolls are too big, you may want to cut them in half.  You want them to be about 3″ wide by about 5″-6″ long.  Notice I said about…no need to measure anything, just use you judgement.

Finely chop your onion and bacon and set aside.  I use a food processor, saves time and does a great job.  Now spread the Dijon mustard over the beef rolls.  Don’t be stingy here, really cover them in mustard.  If you don’t have Dijon mustard you can use a spicy brown mustard.  I just wouldn’t use any of that yellow stuff.  Nope not here.


Bacon and Onion finely chopped


Thick layer of mustard

Once you have the mustard spread all over the top of the beef rolls go ahead on add your onion and bacon.  Again be generous, really pile it on. Now starting at the big end roll up your beef (Ha!!) and secure it with a tooth pick or kitchen string.  We can’t have all that yummy filling falling out when you cook these!  Sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper.  Easy on the salt because bacon is pretty salty itself so you don’t want to overdo it.


Pile on the filling!


Roll em’ up!

Grab your big heavy dutch oven and set it on medium high to warm.  You can add some of that chopped bacon and let it render the fat giving you a nice base flavor to cook these in or you can use vegetable oil.  I prefer bacon, you want enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan.  Then take your rolls and add them to the pan letting them get a nice golden brown on all sides.  Sear them but don’t cook them all the way.  When that’s done remove the rolls from the pan and pour in a little of your beef stock, just enough to scrape up those brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  Now you can add your beef rolls back into the pot along with enough beef stock to cover them, turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.


Getting their sear on!


My beautiful Le Creuset.  Weighs about 100 lbs.


beef stock in case you’re wondering


simmering away and smelling sooooooo gooooood!

When the rolls are tender remove them from the pan and set aside.  Put a few tablespoons of flour into a glass jar and add enough water to form a thin paste.  Make sure to shake it or stir it really well, you don’t want any lumps of flour because you will use this to thicken your gravy.  Bring the liquid in the pot up to a gentle boil and whisk in enough of your flour until you have a nice thick gravy.  Season to taste using salt and pepper but I can almost guarantee you won’t need to add anything.  You just cooked together bacon, onion, mustard and beef.  Seriously the flavor is going to knock your socks off!!!  Now you can strain your gravy if you want it nice and smooth or you can leave it just he way it is with all that onion and bacon that managed to sneak out while it was cooking.  It’s all good!


Making the flour paste for the gravy.


Straining the gravy.  You don’t have to.  Your choice.


THE GRAVY!!!  I could just drink this.  I love, love, love gravy!

Return beef rolls to the gravy and heat thoroughly before serving.  This is delicious served with mashed potatoes and red cabbage.



  1. Fry the bacon and onion up together with a little chopped parsley until soft but not browned.  Fill meat and roll up securing with toothpick or string.  Dredge in flour and brown on all sides in pan.  When well seared remove from pan and add one chopped onion and one sliced carrot and brown slowly about 5-7 minutes.  When the vegetables are golden brown place beef rolls on top of them and add stock.  Simmer until rolls are tender.  Remove rolls, strain sauce and return to pot adding  1/2 cup of sour cream and 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  You may use both or just one or the other.  Return rolls to pot with sauce and heat thoroughly.
  2. For paprika sauce, add 1 tablespoon of paprika to onion and carrot as they brown in pan. Cook as described.
  3. For a wine sauce: Use 1/2 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup of water for your cooking liquid.  Add wine to browned onion and carrot and simmer a minute or two before adding your rolls and water.  Add more water or beef stock if needed to cover rolls while they simmer. Cook as described.
  4. Add a slice of dill pickle, sliced carrot strip and a wedge of onion to beef that has been spread with mustard.  Roll, tie, dredge in flour and proceed with recipe as described adding a small bay leaf to the cooking liquid.
  5. Sausage stuffing: Mix 1/2 pound of pork sausage with chopped parsley, 1 medium onion minced and sautéed in butter or fat.  A little thyme can also be added for flavor.  Fill, roll, tie and cook as described.
  6. Hunters’ Beef rolls (Jagerrouladen): Brown 4 tablespoons of pumpernickel breadcrumbs, 1 finely minced onion and 4 slices of diced bacon in fat or butter until golden brown.  Mix in 4-6 well rinsed, finely chopped anchovy filets, 3-4 small mixed sweet gherkins, 1 tablespoon of chopped drained capers and spread on beef slices.  Roll, tie and cook as described.  Gravy may be thickened with flour and sour cream.

I hope you make these sometime.  You will fall in love.  If you try any of the above variations let me know how it is.  I have never tried any of them so I can’t say but my oldest son has made these using dill pickle and says they are amazing.

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