Back in the 40s and 50s, when my German mother-in-law (aka “Oma”) was a young girl in Northern German, rouladen was her family’s traditional Christmas dinner. Starting at the small end, roll the meat with it’s contents into a tight cylinder.
Now, this classic meal is a common Sunday supper all over Germany, but back then, when money was tight, Rouladen was a special treat served only once a year. Chuck roast is wrapped around bacon, onion and spices then simmered in pan gravy for hours until it becomes tender and flavorful. Using kitchen twine (or in Oma’s case, sewing thread), tie this bundle tightly.
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When the oil is hot, add the rouladen, and cook, turning as necessary, until it is very brown on all sides. When the meat is very very brown all over, place them in a large dutch oven.
Heat about 2 cups of water in small sauce pan until hot. If you didn’t get everything from the pan, add a little more water, scrape again and pour that over the meat. Add enough water so that it covers about 2/3 of the meat like in the photo.
Pour the water into the sauté pan that you used to brown the rouladen and scrape up the drippings. Bring to a boil on the stove top, then reduce heat, cover and simmer very low for 1 1/2 hours.
After the meat is tender, remove it to a plate covered with foil to stay warm.
Whisk together 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 cup water until smooth. Turn the heat off on the pot and add about 1/2 this mixture to the pan juices whisking until it is incorporated.
Then turn the heat back on and simmer until it thickens.
Just before serving, mix in approximately 1/4 cup of sour cream (optional). Cut the string off the rouladen and place one on each plate. Serve with potatoes or pasta and something that once grew in the ground.
I choose broccoli, but Oma prefers to serve with corn.
In the reader comments that followed, there was lots of agreement but also some Tim-bashing, suggesting that he advocates taking unethical shortcuts and shunning real work.
They had a good point, and it has reminded me to write this article today, on a topic I have long wanted to cover: Working Really Hard.
Sometimes on this blog, you’ll hear me celebrating the idea of leisure.