Freitag, 1. November 2013

Traditional German Cuisine: Roulades!

Roulades with red cabbage, gravy, and potatoes

Roulades with fried napkin dumplings and "bacon" beans

Conventionally, Roulades in German cuisine are made from thinly sliced beef filled with onions, bacon, and pickles. They were served with potatoes (or mashed potatoes), lots and lots of gravy and usually cooked red cabbage. It's the type of dish that many people of my generation (you know, those millenials, generation Y, people born in the 80s) were fed as a special treat when they visited their grandma. The same was true for me. Roulades are a little like individual little roasts that each diner would cut up themselves on their plate instead of being served a slice of a big roast. 
I like roulades. But obviously I wouldn't want any cow or pig on my plate. The boyfriend likes this type of cooking (you may go as far as calling it comfort food because Rouladen are usually associated with the coziness of your grandma's living room, the woman who spoiled you rotten. Yeah, I know that's not true for everyone. But you get the point.) even more than I do, so he insisted we'd try this recipe by Jérôme Eckmeier, a chef who's made himself quite a name in the vegan scene in Germany. We made some slight changes and are convinced that our instructions will be much better than his. ^_^


(With enough cabbage and potatoes, these 8 roulades should feed up to 8 people or 4 really hungry ones)

  • 8 Soy "Big Steaks" - we get ours at, they ship internationally. (or at my favorite vegan café in Duisburg, Germany, the Krümelküche!)
  • 1 small jar of pickles
  • 2l of veggie stock (preferably home made - it's really easy!)
  • 3 onions
  • 150-200g of smoked tofu (if you can get a hold of it, get your hands on "Taifun" tofu.) 
  • 50ml of brine from the pickles
  • 200ml of soy cream (or any other non-cow cream)
  • 150ml of dry red wine
  • 5 table spoons of soy sauce
  • 3 table spoons of tomato paste
  • 1 or 2 table spoons of flour
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Marjoram
  • Sweet Paprika
  • Fresh garlic 
  • Caraway
  • Curry
  • Parsely
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf

You are also going to need (for the side dishes)

  • Potatoes 
  • 1kg of red cabbage
  • 2-3 apples
  • 2 onions
  • salt
  • Sugar
  • some vinegar (preferably awesome balsamic!)
  • 125-150ml of red wine or water - your choice

Look at my beautiful mustard which I shopped into the picture with very little skill because I forgot to put it there in the first place! (And I am blaming that on the poor editing skills of the guy who did the original recipe! It was hidden in there!)

Now, I do wish I had fresh parsley and marjoram (and you may notice that I didn't have any carraway at all...), but that's what you get for cooking on a day when the shops are closed.

A quick piece of advice for spices and herbs that you want to use to flavor a sauce/dish, but that you don't actually want in your food when you serve it (like cloves, bay leaves, or juniper berries): Buy tea bags (the type that comes with no tea in it and has to be filled by you) and put your herbs and spices in there. Put the tea bag into your sauce and take it out before you serve it. You get the flavor you wish without the unpleasant surprise of biting on a clove!

What to do?

You're going to make four things: Roulades, gravy, potatoes, red cabbage with apples.
I am not going to tell you how to boil potatoes. I firmly believe that you can do this! I believe in you!

Lets's get started on the red cabbage, so can get this out of the way! Oh, and let's face it: Every grandma has her own recipe for this. They all taste awesome. I'm neither a mother, let alone a grandmother, but here goes my recipe:

Red Cabbage with apples (Apfelrotkohl)

  • Cut the cabbage in half (and look at this beautiful creature! It's like purple brains in a painting!), then cut the halfs in half again. Remove the stalk. Slice the cabbage finely. Don't do it like I did: Wear a glove on your cabbage hand. Or you'll have purple hands for a while. But if that's your thing, go for it!
  • Then cut your two onions in small cubes. Cut your apples in quarters, peel them and cut out the core. Cut the apples in small chunks.
  • Now heat up some oil or other type of vegetable fat (your choice! yay!) and roast the onions for a little while. Add the cabbage. Then add the apples. Stirr every now and then. Add about the wine (or water). Add salt (probably about a tea spoon. You can add more if you think it's necessary later), bay leave, cloves, and about 2 table spoons of sugar. Let the whole thing sit there for a while.... Stir every now and then while you're making the roulades.

Roulades and Gravy

  • Heat up the veggie stock and pour it over your "big steaks."
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F.

  • We eventually realized (as you can see in the pictures) it would be the easiest to soak the dried soy in a bowl at first to then transfer it to the roasting tray (/Dutch oven). The roasting tray I believed I would never use again when I stopped eating meat. Good thing I didn't give it away.
  • Cut one onion in slices and cut two onions in small cubes. 
  • While the soy is soaking, slice up your pickles (do not throw out the brine! You'll need 50ml of it later!) and the smoked tofu. The tofu should be in pretty thin slices (3mm/ 1/10 of an inch), the pickles can be a little thicker.
  • Fry the tofu slices until they're nice and brown. 
  • Next step: Press excess liquid our of the soaked soy. Do not dump the leftover veggie stock! You'll need it for the gravy. Then slice the soy "steaks" in half (so you get thinner roulades). Only cut until there you can open the soy like a book. This way, it's twice as big, but much thinner.

  • Spread mustard on the soy and add pickles, smoked tofu and onion slices. Then roll it up. 

  • Secure the roll either with a wooden stick or yarn (or both).
  • Fry the roulades briefly at a high heat to get a nice roast on the outside. 
  • We recommend you do this in two or three servings. Regardless how big your pan is, it will be easier if you only fry two or three roulades at a time.

  • Take out the roulades and put them on a plate.
  • This is where you get started on the gravy: Chop up all of the onions you did not use inside the roulades. Chop up 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you like). Roast onions and garlic your roasting tray (in canola oil) until they get a nice brownish color. (We didn't roast them long enough, this is why our gravy isn't as dark.) Roast the tomato paste with the brown onions until it gets a little darker as well. 
  • Dust with a table spoon or two of flour.
  • Now deglaze the onions/tomato with with veggie stock left over from the soy "steaks."
  • Add 1 tb sp of sweet paprika, 1/2 tb sp of  caraway, 1 tb sp of curry, 2 tb sp of  parsely, a little bit of nutmeg, 2 cloves, and 1 bay leaf, as well as salt and pepper.
  • Add red wine and pickle brine (sounds weird, tastes great in this combination). 
  • Stir until everything has dissolved into a nice darkish liquid.
  • Place your roulades in the liquid. Don't forget to put on the lid of your roasting pan!
  • Put the roulades in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C/350°F.
  • After these 30 minutes are up, take off the lid and take out all of the roulades, placing the on the lid. The lid is hot, so it won't cool down the roulades as quickly as a fresh plate would.
  • Add the soy cream to the sauce that's left in the pan. Mix everything well.
  • Before plating the roulades with the red cabbage and potatoes, you'll need to filter the sauce through a sieve, so you get a nice and smooth gravy. Add a bit of soysauce to the gravy, if necessary.
  • Finally, serve, share with people you love and enjoy!