21. Beef Rouladen (Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls)


Rouladen. Sounds French, right? As I was preparing this one I had visions of wee men sporting John Waters-ish mustaches and berets in my head. Well, I was dead wrong. This dish is German.

Now, in my defense, I’m not one for languages. I took the requisite 2 years of Spanish to get into college, but all that got me was an ability to somewhat translate the Spanish advertisements on the R train when I lived in Brooklyn. So excuse me for not knowing that Rouladen is a German beef roll.

But I digress. This one was a doozy. No, there wasn’t anything particularly difficult or unusual about the preparation of the dish; it’s just that so much went wrong.

I want to note that I made the Beef Rouladen as directed but I halved the amount of meat (sauce was made per #21’s directions). I also had a bunch of produce from my Arganica produce crate so I tried to use as much as possible during the preparation of #21.

5:15: I began by prepping the meat. For this dish I used 3/4 lb of thin round steak. I used Dijon mustard and carrot strips in addition to the cut dill pickles because I had so many carrots left from my crate. I used toothpicks to close the rolls.

5:45: the meat rolls were in the electric skillet and browning. While they browned I turned to the squash. #21 calls for Pattypan Squash. I thought that Pattypan was a preparation, not a specific type of squash. Well, I was wrong. I didn’t have one on hand (and I think we can all assume that the Safeway would be Pattypan squash-free), but I did have a big 2 pounder butternut from my crate–so I made a Potato and Squash mash because I had 13 oz worth of yams from the crate as well.

Cleve knows how to work a squash

6:00: I added the broth and the wine to the skillet. As I completed this step, Cleve lent a hand and peeled the squash and the yams (this carpal tunnel is a real bitch).

6:10: I cubed the squash and yams. 10 minutes later they were in boiling water.

I had a bit of a break here since the veggies were boiling and the beef rolls were braising. So I enjoyed some wine. I purchased French wines since I thought the Rouladen was Francais and all. I guess that instead I should have tippled some Reisling or Gewürztraminer.

6:58: I drained the yams and squash. At this point the meat still had 18 minutes left on the beef and I knew that I could do the mash when the Rouladen was in the oven, so I just put them back in the pot with the lid on.

7:10: Duchesse Potatoes (AHA! This one is indeed French!) I used instant mashies, prepared according to the directions on the box because that’s what supplementary card #92 told me to do. So the potatoes went into the microwave.

This then initiated a chain of events which involved me blowing the kitchen fuse 3 times in a row since I was using the electric skillet. Microwave + Electric Skillet = meltdown (and a copious amount of profanities). I want to go back in time to whenever it is that my building was erected and tell them to PUT ANOTHER OUTLET ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE KITCHEN ON A DIFFERENT CIRCUIT BREAKER!

I need a new Brian WTF face that’s how WTF this moment was. I might have to prod him into attacking something and capturing it on video in order to fully illustrate the rage I was feeling at this point.

But until then there is this:

He looks a little like Brian. Except small. And from hell.

Since I had to climb up and down and up and down the kitchen counter to reset the fuses,  Cleve had to take notes for me. Here are his:

7:21: potatoes nuked, beat with egg. Half and Half simmering (for yam squash). Skewers removed from meat.

7:25: Thickening gravy (for Brian’s face).

Back to me…at 7:30 the dish with the Beef Rouladen and Duchesse potatoes went into the oven and I mashed the squash and yams.

7:44: I looked again at my beef and potatoes. Margarine-topped or no, these potatoes weren’t browning. Yet the surrounding gravy was bubbling like the La Brea Tar Pits. I put some foil under the dish because the gravy looked ready to blow.

7:52: I bumped up the temperature of the oven in a last-ditch effort to get at least some browning on the potatoes.

7:55: Here I came to the conclusion that #21 was good as it was gonna get. It was a sad moment.

8:00: Dinner is Served!

Almost 3 hours of cooking and the result was overcooked meat rolls with a dill pickle center, swimming in a sea of mushroom gravy and undercooked instant mashed potatoes. It was like school cafeteria mystery meat. Please, feel free to scroll back up to compare my photo with #21. It bears a striking resemblance.


Yes, that’s the pickle and carrot center that you’re seeing in the photo on the right.

Whatever. I still ate the leftovers.

Looking back on it, it’s all the potatoes’ fault. If the Duchesse potatoes had browned then the dish wouldn’t have been in the oven so long and the meat wouldn’t have been as overcooked. The potatoes were too watery for mounds or piping. Maybe that egg wasn’t needed? Were potato buds vastly different in the 1970s? Was it because the microwave stopped working 3 times? Would it have behooved me to use the stove-top cooking method instead?

At least the Martha Stewart Potato & Squash bake was good (it’s Martha, how could it not be?). And dessert was a win. Because I didn’t make it.

Yay to frozen single-serving sized pie!
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11 Responses to 21. Beef Rouladen (Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls)

  1. iamsurly says:

    This looks like the cousin of the Veal Birds, and further proof that there’s really no joy in German cuisine. You know, unless it’s a brat.

  2. Yinzerella says:

    It DOES look like the veal birds! In defense of German fare–the Sauerbraten I made was pretty good.

  3. Erica says:

    Instant mashed potatoes can actually be a lot trickier than real potatoes. The egg I think you do need in there to brown/firm it up while cooking — I have no idea what really went wrong, though. I was really rooting for those meat rolls to turn out better!

    The resemblance between pictures is uncanny 😉

  4. Lauren says:

    I usually love German food, but I don’t think a dill pickle rolled inside beef would do it for me. I’m a little concerned about your breaker situation! Sounds awfully inconvenient. I’m glad the squash mash turned out well, though.

  5. Wendi says:

    Can you take any comfort in the fact that you were at least able to eat the food? I imagine the “food” in the photo was made from motor oil, asbestos, and foam. And we all know that foam browns beautifully.

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  8. Hunter says:

    What did Cleve think about it? I want to know more about Cleve. By the way, I tried Nic’s sausage rolls yesterday for a Christmas brunch. Very tasty but mine did not look anywhere near as good as yours. I think I should have taken more time to make them look like rolls instead of slashed dough with sausage inside. I am not giving up! Anything with two ingredients is high on my list. Oh…and I served them with spicy mustard.

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