German Rouladen

My family called these meat rolls rollmops but they are made with beef steak instead of pickled herring fillets so it is actually rouladen. Thin slices of beef round steak are rolled around a filling of bacon, onion and dill pickle. Then the meat rolls are baked or simmered for a couple of hours in gravy until tender. I like them but I believe it is an acquired taste. In my family the meat rolls were always served with mashed potatoes. Mom didn’t make this often because it took a lot of time.

The recipe was not written down by my Mom. My Dad’s aunt showed Mom how to make them in the 1940s. Aunt Mabel had learned the recipe from her mother (my great grandmother); she had learned it from her mother (my great great grandmother) and so on. As far as I can tell the recipe has been in the family since at least the early 1800s

Meat roulades are European in origin. Thin meat rolled around a stuffing, braised, then baked, large meat rolls are sliced into serving pieces. Smaller meat rolls are often called “birds” or “olives” in cookbooks from the 1800s. Every country in Europe has a version.

There are many variations of this recipe online. This one is the recipe passed down in my family and we never put mustard or other things in it. Mom did not use wine but I do.


  • 1 to 2 pounds of round steak, cut into strips 3 inches wide
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Onion, in chunks or diced thick
  • Bacon, half of a slice for each
  • Kosher dill pickles, ¼ of a pickle for each
  • Kitchen string or toothpicks
  • Bacon fat, shortening or cooking oil


Cut the round steak into pieces. About 3 by 4 inches or so. Sprinkle both sides of the pieces of meat with salt and black pepper. Flour both sides and pound each until the meat is about 1/8 inch thick.

Cut up the onion, either dice or cut in thick slices. You will need at least one large slice or about 2 to 3 tablespoons of diced onion per piece of meat. Diced onion tends to fall out during cooking Mom used thick slices. Cut the dill pickles into quarters lengthwise. You will need a quarter piece of pickle for each piece of meat. Cut the slices of bacon in half. You will need a half slice of bacon for each meat roll.

On each piece of seasoned and floured steak place a half slice of bacon. Place enough onion on each slice of bacon to cover it. Place the quarter piece of dill pickle on top of the onion. Roll the meat around the filling and secure the meat roll with kitchen string or toothpicks. String is traditional but toothpicks are easier to use. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before serving.

Heat the fat in a heavy Dutch oven sized pot. Bacon fat is better than shortening or cooking oil. When the fat is hot add the meat rolls. Turn to brown each side of the rolls. When the meat rolls have browned remove them.

I deglaze the pan with red wine. My Mother used a combination of beef and vegetable stock. She would boil chopped carrots, celery and beef bouillon together, strain it and use that for the liquid. I add beef bouillon after the wine. If I have vegetable stock I use it too. Season the liquid with salt and black pepper. If you did not use kosher dill pickles add some minced garlic to the liquid. Put the meat rolls back into the pan. You should have enough liquid to cover the meat rolls by at least an inch or two. Add more stock or water if needed.

Cover the pan and simmer the meat rolls over low heat for about 2 hours or cover and bake for 2 hours in a 350 degree F. oven until they are tender. Take out the meat rolls so you can make the gravy.

Put the pan of liquid back on the stove over medium heat. Make a slurry of flour and water or cornstarch and water. How much liquid to dry to use depends on the amount of liquid in the pan and how thick you want the gravy. Pour the slurry slowly into the hot liquid, stirring constantly until the gravy is as thick as you want. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

At this point the meat rolls are added back to the pan and the heat lowered to simmer. Simmer the meat rolls and gravy covered until it is time to serve. You can cool it and put the pan of gravy and meat rolls in the refrigerator until the next day. Reheat it in the oven or on the stove top. It is much better the next day.

Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or dumplings. Some people serve red cabbage with it. Neither of my parents liked red cabbage so we never had it. Mom would cook carrots or carrots and celery to serve with the meat rolls.


Use real bacon with plenty of fat streaks. No turkey or imitation bacon healthy garbage. Fresh side meat can be used. The bacon is added raw to the meat rolls.

Some online recipes smear the meat pieces with mustard before layering in the fillings. Other recipes put in carrots and many leave out the pickle. I think it depends on the region of Germany your family came from.

Reheat the meat rolls in the gravy in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 to 45 minutes or simmer on top of the stove.

Change can be a darn good thing. I’ve made this recipe using hamburger instead of steak and the taste is almost the same. Pat out hamburger and lay the filling ingredients on top. Wrap the meat around the filling, Make them oval in shape. Salt and pepper the rolls and coat the outside with flour. The rest is the same as the version using steak. No string or toothpicks to deal with.


About dwittopinions

A great grandmother living in the middle of the United States. My interests include art, needlework, reading, history, politics, and cooking.
This entry was posted in Dinner, Food, Food History, Main Dishes, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to German Rouladen

  1. pamasaurus says:

    Old family recipes are always the best. I’ve never heard of these, but they intrigue me. I’ll definitely have to try it at some point!

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s