German Fleisch Rouladen and Rockin’ and Rollin’ Rouladen with Margaret
German Fleisch Rouladen with all the fixin’s, the ones above, to be exact, is the traditional Christmas Eve Dinner at Margaret’s house. Her family would have it no other way. This is the high season feast prepared for her family with love written all over it and years of memories growing together deeply braised within the flavours and textures of each.
Margaret is a first generation Canadian and this feast of their forefathers has remained centre stage every Christmas.
Certainly, she is a master of this meal. We were blessed and honoured to have her share such a meaningful meal with us. I had actually attempted Rouladen before. I had never tasted it, but have friends who make it regularly and shared their recipes with me. However, I failed. There are so many recipes and rolls and variations “out there” and Cooking in the Kitchen with Margaret most definitely demonstrated how easy this dish is to make, yet how bold and flavourful at the same time.
Easy, yes. With the instructions here, you can succeed. But, it takes time. We just made 6 each on this day. With the side dishes, the entire meal was completed and ready for service 4 hours later and we did not take any breaks. Mind you, the kitchen was also spotless, thanks to our friendly helpers and her best friend, husband and superman-powered dishwasher, Raymond.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Introducing Margaret Bose Johnson from Kitchen Frau
Margaret is the oldest child of 5 daughters and fiercely proud of her German heritage though it wasn’t always so. One hundred percent German on both sides of her family, raised in a first generation Canadian home on their hard-working family farm in Southern Alberta she struggled to fit in at school. She shared an image of an awkward hot cheeked little girl eating homemade lunches of crumbly black rye bread coveting the fluffy Wonderbread of her peers. Parents on both sides immigrated to Canada from Germany as refugees in the mid-50’s in search of a better life for their families. Though both families, originally from Western Europe, lived in German colonies in two different locations in Eastern Europe not knowing one another, their vivid and tragic stories are very closely aligned.
During WWII, the Russians displaced both Margaret’s maternal and paternal German families from their settlement colonies and shuffled them from holding camp to holding camp. Surviving that ordeal was a triumph on its own, but after the war, the government relocated these displaced families to northern farms in West Germany for work to pay for their keep. Resentment of these newcomers flooding their region during such meager times created intense animosity toward them. Immigrating to Canada was the decision of each of these families to make a better life for their children. Margaret’s mother met her father at English class in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Margaret and Raymond met in high school in Beaverlodge many years later.
Margaret is proud of her Canadian roots today, and equally passionate about her German heritage, as are her own children. She and Raymond have woven a tapestry of their life together for their family that is steeped in tradition. As Margaret creates meals learned at the hand of her mother for her own family, she provides an abundant table where they gather round the ancestral dishes, rejoicing and remembering those stories, both vivid and tragic of those that came before and give thanks for the incredible sacrifices made to provide them this opportunity for a better life.
This is one talented, very hard working and humble gal. She is a fellow food blogger and her site is Kitchen Frau and has been a favourite read of mine for years. Be sure to stop by, say hi and how much you love her recipes here! Look at those dark and delicious beef and bacon rolls. Scrumptious is not descriptive enough. I first met Margaret when I hosted a Christmas Fruit Cake Tasting in early 2014. I just put a call out to anyone who makes fruit cake that lived in the vicinity to bring over a sample and join a tasting. She responded, brought a couple of gorgeous cakes and I was hooked. In July of that same year, I got a call that she had far too many Saskatoon Berries and I was welcome to however many I could pick. I dropped everything and ran. Took my mom, too.
I learned a great deal about Margaret that day. First, she lives just West of Edmonton on an acreage that should be named the Garden of Eden for it is truly paradise. However, to live on such a large property, with so many fruit trees, and berry bushes, and expansive gardens, and laying hens and chickens and so much more, one has to have more energy that most can fathom. Margaret and Raymond revel in hard work. They are a tireless couple and just never stop. First, one cannot living on that kind of property. Second, they keep every inch of it pristine and that is a testament that their labours are truly labours of love.
When I decided to start this project, I wrote to her immediately. There are so many of her recipes I am interested in learning to make, but asking her what her most treasured family recipe was brought this answer to our work together.I have traced my ancestors on my mother’s side to a family surname: Bunnywitz who landed near Plymouth Rock in 1729… coming from the area that was at that time, Prussia. I have forever been in search of my roots. I may have German, Polish, Jewish roots. Who knows? Mom’s maiden name is Hecht which is definitely German, so I have been on a quest to learn more about the food and culture of Germany for year, as well. Irish is my other half which I explored cooking with Laureen, though I am absolutely the quintessential 7 generation Canadian.
Margaret it famous for her Gluten Free Recipes:
- Gluten Free Pie Crust
- Homemade Gluten Free Pancake Mix
- Crispy Gluten Free Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies and, her favourite
- Gluten Free Flour Mix
Every one of the above recipes are good reasons to pop over to her site, but there is so much more! Take a look! Remember our project hashtag please: #ACFValerieCookingwithYOU!
German Fleisch Rouladen: Participate in Valerie Cooking in the kitchen with YOU! Project 2017
SugarLoveSpices couple Nicoletta and Loreto came to watch and learn from Margaret, and Raymond, her husband, came to assist. Talk about a dishwashing pro! Everyone was put to work slicing, dicing, tasting and yes, cleaning! I do believe good times were had by all. Certainly, I had a blast. There was a moment mid point where I called, “Hault!” as I was having trouble focusing with so much happening at once. That’s what happens when one becomes a #wisewoman, or what some might refer to as “older”. Most don’t photograph step by step instructions and as I do, a slower pace works best. Holy moly, can these 4 rock your socks off in the kitchen! If you are interested in participating in my project “Valerie Cooking in the Kitchen with YOU!” you can find all of the information here.
Suffice it to say that some women like to shop or go to the spa. I love to cook in my kitchen with a friend – or someone learned who has a recipe to share, and a story to tell. Essentially, I want to glean heritage and traditional recipes – the best of the best – from our oldies and goldies that have so much experience in their heads. I want to cook with our babas and nonnas and grandmas and grandpas and learn to make what they are known for, or famous for, and share it with my readers. This is not exclusive to our elders, but definitely with them in mind. Of course, many, many younger folk, like me, for example, have much to share, as well.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Mis en Place
Simple, simple simple ingredients. Gorgeous know-your-farmer Alberta Beef. Best to go to the butcher to get it sliced for you as they know what rouladen is and will give you advice and get it done well. Know-your-farmer bacon is equally important. When using simple ingredients, each must be of highest quality. With bacon, all of the flavour is in the fat. The Berkshire Boar from Irvings Farms is one of my personal favourite bacons, but we usually have Tammworth bacon in our freezer from Nature’s Green Acres, though had just run out before making this recipe. Homemade dill pickles would be “the bomb”, but I didn’t make these. And the mustard? Traditionally, it must be Dijon. Period. However, I am looking forward to mixing it up next time with my favourite Alberta mustard: Traditional Whole Grain Prepared Brasicca Mustard. Am over the moon about this stuff and it is not easy to find, for some reason. I wouldn’t mess with anything else in “real life”, but with my creative juices now flowing, the dill could be substituted with multi-coloured bell peppers for my Eastern European man to switch up the Sunday Supper routine, too! However, don’t even think of messing with this recipe when making the real thing ’cause this is the real thing.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Preparing the Rouladen
Thin end down, layer the meat: mustard, bacon, pickles, and onion. Then roll it all up up as tightly as possible, securing with a toothpick.
My own little tip: wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours. Roll will then hold shape completely when frying. Learned this when making my own Cordon Blue.
Above, the master at work. Below, her audience, completely mesmerized. As was I. Seriously. Was this as simple as it seemed? I had attempted it twice and it was disastrous both times. Don’t even ask.
Bold flavours, and lots of ingredients generously piled onto the prime Alberta Beef. But, after 2 hours of braising in the oven, the ingredients melt into tender oblivion transforming into a completely new dimension of flavour and texture that is vividly memorable, yet not at all discernable as bacon, onion or dill pickles.
Margarets rolls ready to be browned.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Browning the Rouladen
Some season and flour the rolls, then brown them. Margaret just browns them. They took a good 4-5 minutes per side to get the desired caramelization.
My rolls were refrigerated for less than an hour still holding their shape a little. Longer, and the toothpick could likely be removed before frying.
So, we’re both browning our rolls on the stove top with grease splatters flying everywhere. That’s the only downside of this preparation, but it is to be expected when browning anything. Usually, I try to make these kinds of dishes on my outside stove to avoid the slippery floor. However, this was simply too much fun and well worth the extra 10 minutes it took to wash the floor after. And, I will add, dear Margaret, that my stove top is the easiest to clean, ever.
That’s what we’re looking for. Such beautiful colour. Time for the braising liquid.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Making the Braising Sauce
A good quality red wine 1- 11/2 cups then water to 1/2 or 3/4 way up the sides of the rolls, but not to cover. Cook with a bottle you’d actually drink.
Juniper berries and bay leaves: less berries if not foraged, like Margaret’s above.
A seared exterior and a thick, rich, glistening sauce that has been building all day will elevate your position within a family of cooks. There is nothing like braised meat to transform a simple dish into a spectacular one. The meat should not be submerged. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover and slide into a 325-degree oven.
Margaret’s own personally foraged Juniper Berries were spectacular. Mild. Flavourful. Chewy. Earthy and without the sharp piney bite most possess. Thus, adding more made sense. I am enamoured. Most braises are done with stock and wine. Stock could definitely be added instead of water, but is not necessary for this dish.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Braising the Rouladen
After a good 2 hours braising in a 325F oven, the rouladen reared its head proudly, but differently, depending upon the pan it was cooked in. Margaret used my All-Clad braising pan and I used my Le Creuset braising pan. The caramelization on her meat had almost been steamed off and my rolls were darker and more intense. Look at the lid! Obviously, the Le Creuset retained much more heat. We were both disappointed to see her rolls after opening mine, yet, the sauce was delicious and the flavour was all there. She found my sauce a bit bitter. Loretto found it more “wine intense”. I didn’t taste bitterness, but a more distilled sauce. The flavours were intensified.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Making the Gravy
Remove the rolls, and tent them. We added both sauces together to make the gravy.
Tasting the sauces…
Together, the sauce was gorgeous. I like to add the thickener through a sieve to avoid lumps. Today we added a sweet rice flour so the gravy would be gluten free, and it thickened like glue even with this method. A different beast, that sweet rice flour. However, with so many cooks in the kitchen, all problems are effortlessly solved. Using the tami, Nicoletta gently sieved the gravy through the mesh to avoid getting any lumps of cooked rice flour in the gravy.
Did I mention how much fun we had?
Margaret was delighted with the glistening gravy and we were all tickled with its dark colour and bold flavour: a tart mildly sourish umami laden savory bit of bliss.
German Fleisch Rouladen: Presenting the Rouladen with all its Fixin’s
A proud moment for all. Thank you, Margaret.
Glistening rolls of scrumptious homemade German Fleisch Rouladen. The Bose Johnson Christmas Eve main dish here to be shared with all.
And the fixin’s? Yup. We made every one of them. Bless Margaret and Raymond. Bless them. The Spaetzle. The Cucumber Salad. The Braised Cabbage. “You cannot make Rouladen with out these accompaniments.” Margaret had said to me on the phone. I didn’t expect her to bring all of the ingredients to make them with her, but she did. Margaret is likely known to go the second mile, and more, amongst her friends. I have known her only a short while and she is a very giving soul.
Center Stage: the German Fleisch Rouladen.
Is it not gorgeous? Look at that gravy! Glistening bliss.
Read on for the rest. We have included individual posts and recipes for each.
Thank you to Margaret and Raymond for coming to my home, sharing such an incredible traditional family meal with me, and setting such an incredible example of giving. Thank you, Loreto and Nicoletta for your help and wisdom. For the rest of you, please chime in. Share your rouladen stories. When do you eat it? How do you make it? Any other rolled meat recipes from your family table? Let’s get this conversation going!
German Fleisch Rouladen
Scrumptious German Fleisch Rouladen with spatzle is the specialty with step by step images with Valerie Cooking in the Kitchen with Margaret Bose-Johnson!
Ingredients 6 Rouladen:
- 6 thin slices of a know-your-farmer beef (partially frozen inside round works well)
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 12 slices bacon
- 6 dill pickles , julienned
- 1 ½ cup chopped onion
- toothpicks or cotton kitchen string
- ¼ cup olive oil
Ingredients for Each Roulade:
- 1 thin slice from a beef roast (the inside round works well)
- about 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 dill pickle , julienned
- ¼ cup (60ml) chopped onion
- toothpicks or cotton kitchen string
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Ingredients for Gravy Thickener:
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup water
- jar with lid
Ingredients for the Gravy:
- 1 cup (240ml) red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 juniper berries or 2 whole cloves
- water to cover
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions for Filling each Roulade:
Lay one roulade out on your cutting board thin side toward tummy in vertical position; spread lightly with Dijon
Place 2 bacon slices side by side lengthwise along roulade, leaving 2 inches (5cm) of beef at one end free of bacon (less bacon, widthwise, depending upon width of roulade)
Lay pickle strips horizontally along bacon slices; sprinkle chopped onion over bacon and pickle, also leaving the same 2 inches (5cm) of beef free of bacon
Instructions for Rolling:
Start with the full end of beef closest: roll as tightly as possible, using both hands to tuck in filling
Pull 2 inches of uncovered beef over to cover filling; secure with round toothpick
Instructions for Browning Rolls:
Pre-heat oven to 325°F; select heavy casserole or braising pan with lid that will hold rouladen in single layer
Heat oil in heavy pan; sauté rouladen, turning to brown all 4 sides (about 4-5 minutes per side)
Remove and place each in casserole in single layer; deglaze pan with red wine and pour over rouladen
Tuck in bay leaves and juniper berries or cloves; add water until rouladen is sitting in liquid ¾ way up sides
Instructions for Braising:
Cover casserole with lid; bake at 325°F for 2 hours until meltingly tender
Remove rouladen to serving platter; cover with foil
Instructions for Making Gravy Thickener:
Place flour and water in jar with lid; shake until lumps dissolve
Instructions for Making the Gravy:
Pour braising liquid into saucepan and place on stove top); bring to a boil
Whisking boiling broth with one hand; set sieve into sauce and pour in a little slurry with other hand into sieve, stirring inside sieve and pushing liquid though to avoid lumping
Continue, a little at a time, until gravy has reached desired thickness; taste and season
Serve gravy over rouladen and on side with mashed potatoes, or spätzle, and a side of Braised Red Cabbage and a crispy cucumber salad.
Freezing Rouladen Method One for Small Crowd Entertaining on the Fly:
Freeze after fully braised individually on parchment covered cookie sheets (gently slide out toothpick to avoid holes in bag later); store in labeled and dated freezer bags
Make gravy and freeze in amounts to serve with 4 rouladen as this enables serving a lovely company dinner on short notice
Freezing Rouladen Method Two:
Freeze after fully braised in serving casserole with juices; heat and make gravy just before serving
Recipe NotesRouladen freezes exceptionally well
Flat toothpicks tend to break; use round ones
Rolling roulade tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating for 4 hours or more before browning will help keep the shape of the roll (mustard must be spread thinly to do this)
The amount of thickener needed depends on how much broth you have from your rouladen. If you don’t have much broth left, or if it tastes too salty, you can add more water to thin it out.
Freeze your Entire Meal in Advance!
Rouladen can be completely frozen, as can the Spaetzle and the Braised Cabbage Recipe. Make all three ahead and have a party with very little last minute effort!
Raymond washing after the rouladen. Spaetzle dishes everywhere, and more, more, more to come.
Recipes for the complete Bose Johnson Christmas Eve Fleish Rouladen Dinner:
- Braised Purple Cabbage
- Cucumber Salad and
- Margaret’s Post about her experience here which includes information about how to prepare ahead for a crowd.
We do this to preserve the heritage of our Canadian Culture. Chime in!