As a kid growing up in the 70's and 80's, I wasn't exposed to much in the way of cuisine from other countries. A taco or cheese covered enchilada from Taco Tico was about as exotic or ethnic as it got.
We have always encouraged our daughter to try new foods and I am constantly amazed at how much broader her culinary experience is then mine was at her age. While we are not adventurous eaters, we do try and explore different cuisines while traveling and at home. Additionally, she has been exposed to German cuisine through the German grandmother (or Oma) of one her friends and loves beef and pickles together. As we watched a recent episode of Melissa D'Arabian's Ten Dollar Dinners where she made her grandmother's rouladen, Savannah asked if I would make it soon as it reminded her of the food she so enjoyed at Oma's house.
I had never eaten rouladen before and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was. Especially, the pickles. One of those ingredients that you couldn't put your finger on, but definitely brings it all together. Melissa's recipe didn't specify sweet or dill relish so I used sweet since it is what I had on hand. It added a lovely hint of sweetness and tang.
Flat iron steak is one of my favorite inexpensive cuts of beef and I was happy to see it on the list of ingredients. I butterflied the steak myself and pretty much hacked up the first portion but got the hang of it. If you have a butcher that will butterfly it for you, I would suggest taking advantage of it. This is a great cut of meat for this dish because it has a lot of flavor and is fairly tender. I only braised mine for about an hour and can only imagine how tender it would have been if I had braised it the full 90 minutes.
I made this on a weeknight and honestly it is too much work and time for that but would be perfect for a Sunday supper. It's warm, hearty, and incredibly flavorful!
Note: I cooked the bacon in my Dutch oven, and then cooked the veggies in the bacon grease. I can't let good bacon grease go to waste! I also think it would be good to set aside some of the cooked bacon and then sprinkle it over the finished dish to add some texture.
(Almost) My Grandma's Rouladen
1 (1 1/2-pound) piece of flatiron steak, butterflied open (by you or your butcher), cut into 4 equal pieces and pounded 1/4-inch thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons country-style or Dijon mustard
1 1/2 large yellow onions, diced
2 tablespoons pickle relish
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large carrot chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon just enough to render the fat, and set aside. Salt and pepper the steaks and lay flat on a large cutting board. Brush the top side of the slices with enough mustard just to coat.
In a small bowl, toss together half the onion with the pickle relish and the reserved bacon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the onion mixture over the meat. Starting at the short end, roll the meat up jellyroll style, and secure with kitchen twine.
Heat the oil in a medium heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown all sides of the meat. Remove the meat from the pan, and add the remaining onion, carrot and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine and then add in the canned tomatoes (with their juice).
Nestle the meat back into the pan, bring to a simmer, cover and then bake until the meat is tender, about 90 minutes. Turn the meat once halfway through cooking.