Some of my favorite memories of my Oma (that’s grandmother in German) are in the kitchen. She patiently (or sometimes not so patiently) taught me how to make several traditional German family favorites. I was her oldest grandchild born to her oldest son so I was chosen to carry on these traditions. I wasn’t so sure as a young girl but now I know I was the lucky one that got to spend many a weekend learning to prepare potato salads, crumb cake, kohlrouladen, potato pancakes, and rouladen. There were no written recipes, she just knew how to do it by feel, and taught me the same way. I admit this was difficult, but it was when I was cooking with her that I really learned that cooking was more than following a recipe, it was about making something for someone, a gift to be enjoyed by family and friends, a way to show someone you love them.
I now have a love for cooking, it is a way for me to relax, a hobby that takes my mind off the ordinary and mundane. It is a way for me to give back to the people I care about. I don’t always include my children in the actual process of cooking, it is my time, but when ever I make one of my Oma’s recipes I get nostalgic and without even thinking invite my son into the kitchen with me. It is like there is something more than food with these recipes, it is a bond that must be passed on. This week when Rouladen was on the menu he joined me at my side and I realized that even though we don’t have this dish that often he already knew exactly how to make it. We didn’t even get out measuring cups, but he just looked at the ingredients we had prepared and said we are going to need more pickles and he went straight to work chopping up some more. I smiled and knew my job was done, he is now the chosen one, I hope someday he thinks he’s lucky.
Oma’s Beef Rouladen
1 1/2 lbs of thinly sliced bottom round steak
1/4 c dijon mustard
approx 6 strips of raw bacon cut in half
1 c chopped dill pickles (use the refrigerated kind)
1 c chopped red onion
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 1/2 c stock or water
1/4 t pepper
Place the steaks between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until thin but not falling apart. Spread a thin layer of mustard on the steak, place 1/2 a strip of bacon on each piece of meat. Add about 1 1/2 t of chopped pickles, and 1 1/2 t chopped onion to the top of each steak. Roll meat into a bundle and secure with a small wooden skewer or a couple of toothpicks,making sure the onions and pickles will not come out.
Preheat an electric frying pan and melt the butter over med high heat. Add the rouladen and brown on both sides.
Add 1 cup chicken or beef stock or water, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Remove the rouladen from pan.
Add 1 1/2 c water or stock mixed with 2 T flour to the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cook until gravy is slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.
Serve with boiled potatoes and cabbage or collard greens if you are a southerner like me.