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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Didn't Miss The Turkey And Here's Why, or- The Long Awaited Red Cabbage Post

Steve and I stayed home this Thanksgiving because there was some work that needed to be done on the car, and the Friday after Thanksgiving was the only day I wouldn't need it and he could get it done. And with just the two of us, I didn't feel like messing with the whole turkey dinner thing, so I made Rinderrouladen and red cabbage, and we had that with whole wheat Spaetzle (and gravy).

Rouladen just means 'rolls' in German, and they are easy enough to make.  I'll give you my recipe for them, which is probably the same as everybody else's, and I'll give you the recipe for my red cabbage, which isn't like everybody elses, and I'll give you Steve's recipe for Spaetzle.

The hardest thing about making Rouladen is finding the right cut for it. Fortunately, Portland has a German deli that also does Rouladen. If I couldn't find a proper Rouladen, I would get my hands on the biggest roast I could and cut it into three-quarter inch slices, then make a butterfly cut from one side of the slice (on the small side of the slice, not the flat side) at one third the thickness, turn it to the opposite end and make another butterfly cut so that it's kind of like a capital N, and then flatten it out and pound it thin and even. Thank goodness I don't have to go that extra step, but I could if I had too.


Spread the Rouladen out on a platter and smear it with some spicey mustard (like a teaspoon, but it really isn't rocket science).


Then lay a couple of slices of bacon on the mustard, some very thinly (very thinly) sliced onions, and then a dill pickle spear on one end.  I used scattered capers this time because I couldn't get at my pickles, but dill pickles are traditional and now that I've tried capers, I think dill pickle spears are better for this dish.  Start rolling the beef around the dill pickle spear and roll the whole thing up.


Tie up each of the Rouladen into a little bundle.


Brown them in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use grape seed oil).


When the Rouladen are brown all the way around, pour in enough water to come half way up their sides. Grab a pancake turner and scrape all that lovely fond off the bottom of the pan.  Throw in a bouquet garni (in this case fresh thyme, parsley and celery from the garden, and a dried bay leaf), put a lid on it, and simmer it for an hour and a half, turning the Rouladen a couple of times during the cooking time.  While the Rouladen are cooking make the red cabbage (see the recipe below).

Remove the Rouladen to a plate and thicken the stock in the pan to make a gravy.  I use a tablespoon or two of arrowroot powder dissolved in some cold water because I have a boatload of bulk arrowroot powder, but you can use cornstarch dissolved in water or flour dissolved in water.  Arrowroot powder and cornstarch can be dumped into cold water and stirred up- they behave very similarly. Flour, however, you're better off starting dry in a small bowl and adding enough cold water to make a paste, and then adding enough water a little bit at a time to thin it enough to be able to pour it.  If you make a paste first, you shouldn't have any lumps. (This method works great with crepe and Dutch baby batters- I mix the eggs into the flour to make a smooth paste and then add the milk a little bit at a time until it's all in- no lumps.)

Once the gravy is done, you can put the Rouladen back into the pan to keep warm in the gravy until you're ready to serve it.  Just keep a lid on it on low.


So while your Rouladen were cooking, you should have made your red cabbage.  I have zero pictures, because they didn't turn out, but that shouldn't stop you from trying it.

Paula's Red Cabbage

In a large saucepan on medium low heat, brown a few cut up slices of bacon or small cubes cut from a slab of bacon.  Remove the cooked bacon and set aside but save the fat.

Dice a small onion and saute that in the bacon fat.

Shred a small red cabbage about the size of a very large grapefruit. Once the onion is translucent, dump the shredded cabbage and cooked bacon into the pan with the onion and toss the cabbage around in the fat to coat it.

Add the following: one cup of beef stock (or a cup of water and a boullion cube), 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup of blueberry preserves (the traditional fruit and sweetener is a diced apple and a few tablespoons of honey, but my way is to use the preserves, so you get whole fruits, and to reinforce the red color- it's not strictly traditional but it is my recipe), 1 bay leaf, 1 one inch piece of cinnamon stick, 1 piece of blade mace (or some fresh ground nutmeg), a pinch of ground cloves (whole cloves are too small to fish out later), a small pinch of caraway seeds, and four juniper berries (the last two are optional).  Mix it up and taste the liquid for a balance of sweet and sour.  Put the lid on it and set it to cook for an hour.

After the hour is up, take off the lid and fish out the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and blade mace and discard them. Then take a tablespoon of very soft unsalted butter and a couple tablespoons of flour and mash them together until they resemble cookie dough.  This is sort of like a beurre manie.  Pull pea-sized balls of dough into the red cabbage and lightly stir them in.  Put a lid on it and set it on the back of the stove to keep warm while you make the Spaetzle.

Steve's Spaetzle

Bring a large pot of water to the simmer and add some salt (like for pasta).

It helps a lot to do this in a stand mixer:

Beat together: 4 eggs, 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, freshly grated nutmeg and freshly ground white pepper (not black- if you don't have white, skip the pepper), and 1/2 cup of water.  Beat it until it strings off the sides of the bowl.

It should make a stringy, thick batter, not a dough, and will be really sticky.

Spoon the batter in batches into a Spaetzle maker and squeeze it into a barely simmering pot of salted water.



When the Spaetzle rise to the surface, they're done. It will happen pretty fast so be ready for them.  Remove them with a slotted spoon or spider and keep them in a warm serving dish.  It helps to keep them from sticking by stirring a tablespoon of butter into them.


To serve dinner, fish the Rouladen back out of the gravy and carefully remove all that string.  Plate them with the red cabbage and Spaetzle, and then ladle gravy over the noodles and beef. *

I probably shouldn't have written this post before bedtime because now I'm hungry again.


* Some people like toasted, buttered bread crumbs on their Spaetzle, and some people like some minced onion sauteed with those bread crumbs.  Just sayin'.

18 comments:

Jacquelineand.... said...

This looks lovely and I'll be trying your recipes out myself, thank you for sharing them.

Paula said...

I hope you do Jacqueline, and let me know how you like them.

I cooked none of this stuff before marrying Steve- I don't think I'd even heard of them!

Miriam said...

It's a good thing I don't live nearby, or I'd be knocking on your door right now looking for leftovers...

click clack gorilla said...

Mmmmm! I've been into making roulade a lot myself lately. Though I do it a little differently than you do. I do the mustard (my favorite is this insanely good fig mustard I have at the moment), but I prefer sliced ham to bacon, and then I layer in some savoy cabbage slices, and swiss cheese. And wow, do I not let it simmer as long as you do! I'll have to try that sometime. I usually let them simmer in the sauce for about 15 or 20 minutes. And I don't bother thickening the sauce with anything, just use tomato paste, fried onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Mmmmmmmm. Awesome looking plate you guys put together there.

Lyssa said...

That sounds delicious!

Paula said...

Sorry Miriam- I ate them this week at work!

Nicole- your fig mustard sounds intriguing. I'm not sure I would like rouladen with ham because the bacon fat adds a lot of unctuousness that the beef doesn't have because it's so lean- but I'm making gravy which needs the fat. Your sauce sounds like it doesn't need it. Actually, your version sounds a lot like an Italian version, the name of which escapes me at the moment. But I bet it's really good!

Thanks Lyssa- try it!

Ngo Family Farm said...

Your rouladen looks wonderful--just like my Oma used to make! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
-Jaime

Leigh said...

Wow, what a meal! So unique and looks so tasty.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I don't think I've had Rouladen these past 20 years. But now I want it - yours are beautiful.

It's 6 am and my mouth is watering.

jules said...

My Husband made me Dutch Baby for breakfast this weekend. He's discovered our cast iron skillets, cleaned one out good and seasoned it, and it made the most incredibly beautiful DB evar!

Spaetzle. I think my Slovak grandma made something similar to this. She'd mix up a bowl with flour, water, and maybe an egg, into a goopy mess, then scrape the dough off the side of the dish into salted boiling water. We'd eat those with this wilted cabbage/bacon stuff. Yum! I'm going to have to ask my mom about that recipe before she forgets it.

clairz said...

Paula, this is a kind of cooking I have never done so I am looking forward to trying it.

I came to your blog from Danni's (On the Way to Critter Farm) mainly because of your comment about feeling guilty over not getting Kai's fiber spun. I had to laugh, because every moment I had my own batch of llama fiber from Danni, I felt guilty about not getting it done. It was such a relief to me to finally send it all off to her. Somehow, my own spinning projects can wait for years in the closet with no guilt attached at all!

I am enjoying your blog as I read backwards through time, for all these reasons (in addition to enjoying your writing style and sense of humor): We used to have a small place in Washington state where we gardened and raised animals while reading manuals about how to do so, we just traveled by train across the country and want to do more train travel, and we have chickens once again here in southern New Mexico. I'm sure I'll discover more things we have in common as I read on!

Miriam said...

Just wanted to let you know I made the red cabbage for supper tonight and it was TASTY! I'll definitely be making it again. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Paula said...

I'm so glad you liked it Miriam!

John said...

That looks delicious! I've never heard of rouladen before, but it looks like a really fun dish with ample room for experimentation. Ten points for using grape seed oil, too! I've been singing it's praises for years. It's unusually high smoke point, it's subtle, versatile flavor....

When thickening a pan gravy with flour, I don't bother making a slurry with water. If you toss the flour right into the pan it sucks up the fat and makes an instant, flavorful roux. If your oven is going anyways, you can cheat by throwing the pot in, and your roux will darken nicely without having to babysit it on the stove. Congratulations on your surplus of arrowroot, that stuff ain't cheap! It's way better than cornstarch, too!

Thanks for making me really hungry!

John said...

That looks delicious! I've never heard of rouladen before, but it looks like a really fun dish with ample room for experimentation. Ten points for using grape seed oil, too! I've been singing it's praises for years. It's unusually high smoke point, it's subtle, versatile flavor....

When thickening a pan gravy with flour, I don't bother making a slurry with water. If you toss the flour right into the pan it sucks up the fat and makes an instant, flavorful roux. If your oven is going anyways, you can cheat by throwing the pot in, and your roux will darken nicely without having to babysit it on the stove. Congratulations on your surplus of arrowroot, that stuff ain't cheap! It's way better than cornstarch, too!

Thanks for making me really hungry!

Paula said...

Tossing the flour into the pan only works if the only thing in the pan is the fat, in which case it does make a roux

However in this case, there's a lot of pan juice, and you don't want to just toss flour into a pan of juices or stock. That's when a slurry works better.

But throwing it into a pan in the oven with a roast sounds like a good idea, and I'm going to try it sometime.

Nicole Hitchcock said...

Impressive!!!

Jennifer Montero said...

good lord those rouladen look delicious. Would you think I'm rude if I invite myself to dinner at your house - should I ever be visiting the west coast? If I beg, will you make spaetzle?

I'm going to try your recipe with venison instead of beef, as we have lots of one and none of the other and trying to make venison interesting after a winter's worth of meals is a challenge. The capers looked delicious, but I'll try half with pickles and half with capers - you know, in the interest of culinary science. Not because I'm greedy or anything...