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.
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'.