Beef Rouladen is a German specialty of thin slices of beef, rolled, and stuffed with onions, bacon, mustard, herbs, and cornichons. The rolls are seared and then simmered in a rich gravy until they are fork-tender. My German mother-in-law made beef rouladen for me when I first moved to Germany. The dish was a feast for my senses and soul. I could barely speak German, but the language of food cut through any lack of communication. Having long moved back to the United States with my German husband, beef rouladen is a nostalgic dish I make for the holidays, usually Christmas day. While it is not Christmas, I am celebrating #MerlotMe month, and beef rouladen makes for a great pairing with Peju Merlot.
My Tasting Notes
Disclosure: The wine was provided to me as a media sample. All opinions are my own.
Peju was established in 1983 when Tony and Herta Peju purchased 30 acres of land in the Rutherford district of Napa Valley. The estate now includes five properties totaling 558 acres with 232 under vine. The original 30 acre Rutherford estate is certified organic. All vineyard properties are certified Fish Friendly Farming and practice sustainable farming. The goal is to have all estate vineyards certified organic in the next few years. Peju remains family-owned, with daughters Lisa and Ariana poised to take over the business.
2016 Peju Merlot, Napa Valley
15% abv | SPR $48.00 (sample) | 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
The grapes are from the Rutherford and Persephone vineyards. The wine was aged for 17 months in French and American oak (40% new).
Medium ruby in color. Aromas of plum, spice, cherry, vanilla, and toast. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body, tannin, and acidity. Flavors of black cherry, blackberry, vanilla, and cedar.
Food Pairing Notes
The full-bodied Peju Merlot is a weight match for the full-flavored beef rouladen. The wine’s acidity and tannins play a nice counterbalance to the beef and richness of the gravy, elevating the mouth-watering layered flavors of both the food and wine.
A German specialty to celebrate the holidays. Pair it with a full bodied red wine with good notable acidity and tannins to balance the richness of the dish.
- 12 slices top round beef, about 3 lbs total, each slice about 4 X 10 inches and weighing about 1/4 lb
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 + tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 cup smooth Dijon mustard
- 12 oz apple smoked bacon
- 3 cups white onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh chives, finely chopped
- 12 small cornichons
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
- 1-1/4 cup Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon slices on the sheet without overlapping them. Bake for about 9 minutes and then turn the bacon slices over and cook for about 8 additional minutes. You want the bacon cooked but not crisp. Set aside to cool and then chop into small pieces. Set aside 1/2 cup of the chopped bacon pieces.
In a medium bowl, combine and mix the remaining chopped bacon (about 2 cups), 2 cups of chopped onion, parsley, and chives.
Working with 3-4 meat slices at a time, place them on a cutting board and pat them dry. Take a piece of plastic wrap and spread it over the meat slices. Pound them to even out the thickness to about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the plastic.
Season one side of the meat slices with salt, pepper, and marjoram. Then spread a thin layer of mustard to completely cover the same side of the meat. Sprinkle equal portions of the bacon/onion/herb mixture on top of the mustard layer, leaving a rim of about 1/2 inch on all sides of the meat piece. Place a cornichon about 1 inch from the bottom of each slice and roll the meat from the bottom, folding in the sides toward the center as you roll. Secure the roll with cooking string or small metal skewers to keep them intact.
Repeat with the remaining meat slices.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
In a large Le Creuset dutch oven (or similar), melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, remaining 1 cup of onions , and reserved 1/2 cup bacon. Simmer, stirring the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Working in two batches, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in the dutch oven. Add 6 of the meat rolls and brown them on all side over medium-high heat. When they are well browned remove them to a platter and keep them warm. Repeat with the remaining 6 rolls and add them to the platter.
Add the wine and beef broth to the dutch oven, stirring to dissolve any remaining brown particles. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and water together and stir it into the broth mixture. Stir to combine and warm until it just begins to thicken. Return the beef rolls to the pot and any accumulated juices from the meat. Add the reserved vegetables and bacon. Cover and bake in the 350 degree F oven for one hour. Turn the rolls after the first 30 minutes.
Remove the rolls from the pot and keep them warm. In an electric blender or food processor, blend the sauce. You may need to blend in a few batches. (Use caution with the hot sauce, you may need to let it cool slightly before blending). Return the sauce to the pot. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil and return the meat rolls to the pot. Turn the heat to low and cover, simmer for 15 minutes.
Beef Rouladen is traditionally served with potato dumplings, spaetzle, or mashed potatoes and red cabbage.
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