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This has been a family favorite since the beginning of time; well, at least my time as I know it. It is the most requested birthday dinner meal, from my childhood days to my children’s childhood days. While traditionally done with thinly sliced bottom round, when I was a child bottom round was hard to find, grocery stores not being what they are today, so my mother made it as a stuffed flank steak. I find this presentation much prettier. When made with bottom round, well, it looks a bit like a turd to me.
This is a non traditional presentation of a very traditional German dish
I have served My Mother’s Rouladen over the years to many people and everyone loves it. While surprised by the pickles, the flavors of pickles, onions and bacon meld to make a delicious bite. Flank steak is also a very lean cut of meat, so the bacon is important not only to add flavor but a little bit of fat. Mustard acts as a tenderizer so the meat is juicy and tender.
While you can cook this in a low oven, a slow-cooker or a pressure cooker, I like the pressure cooker best. Cooking in moist heat keeps the meat moister. And it’s ready to eat sooner. That’s an added plus for once you’ve had My Mother’s Rouladen, your mouth will be ready to eat it again.
A lot of people are intimidated by food they have to fill, roll and tie.
It’s really not all that difficult and it doesn’t have to be pretty when you do it, not pretty in the professional chef sort of way, just able to do the job of keeping the filling inside while you cook it. Watch the video and you’ll see my “fancy” tying job. NOT. But it works. When browning a rolled roast or tied meat, always start with the tied side down, this helps seal the tied edge. As with all slow-braised meats, be sure not to rush the browning time, the most common mistake in making good braised meats is not allowing enough browning. You can take it just to the “edge” of burnt. I say edge because black is not good, but dark brown is delicious. And of course, always cook it with the tied edge down to keep it from coming apart in the pan.
Ready? OK…let’s cook some Rouladen.
Place the flank steak between two pieces of plastic wrap, or inside a large zip-top bag. With the flat side of a meat mallet, (not the tenderizer side) gently pound the meat until it is uniform in thickness. (If you don't have a meat mallet, you can use the bottom of a small frying pan or a rolling pin).Remove the meat from the plastic wrap and place it with the inside up (so you can roll it up).
Press the garlic with a garlic press and rub all over the inside of the meat. Generously season with salt and pepper. Spread the mustard over the entire surface; then lay the bacon slices lengthwise along the meat, with the ends flush with the widest part of the meat.
About 2 inches from the wide edge of the meat, lay a nice layer of the onions (you won't use them all) to about the mid-point of the meat. Scatter pickles over the onions (again, you won't be using them all). Roll the meat up, jelly-roll fashion (some of the fillings will come out, don't worry about that). When it is nicely rolled, tie with cooking string to make a secure package (or you can tie it at about 2-inch intervals, then tie a long piece from side to side. It's important to tie it around and across to help hold the filling in).
You can cook this in your slow cooker, in a Dutch oven in a 325°F oven or a pressure cooker, whichever method you choose, you first need to brown the meat well. So heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the rolled meat, seam side down. Brown well, then turn over and brown the top. Return the meat to seam side down; reduce the heat to medium and add any remaining onions and pickles to the pot and allow them to cook until soft, stirring up any browned bits.
Add the broth and allow to cook, uncovered until almost evaporated. Just when you think it's about to burn, add water up to the middle of the meat; cover and put in the slow-cooker, oven or pressure cooker. If cooking in the slow-cooker, it should go for 8 hours on low, or 4 on high (it should be very tender); in the oven, 3 hours at 325°F, (if cooking in the oven, either put a piece of parchment paper over the meat, or turn it a couple of times while cooking to keep the meat moist) in the pressure cooker, 60 minutes from the time it comes up to pressure.
Once cooked, remove the meat to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the string and cut across the grain to make spirals.
While the meat is resting, finish the gravy. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat and allow it to reduce slightly. Add the cornstarch slurry, a bit at a time until it thickens to your desired consistency. Serve the meat with the gravy spooned on top.
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