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Oma Mia’s Rinderrouladen (German Beef Rouladen)

(by Désirée Willmes)


This is my German grandmother Maria´s recipe for a true German comfort food. When I was growing up, we called it Rinderrouladen hausfrauenart (housewife´s method). Victoria, my mom, learned most of her cooking from her mother-in-law, my Oma.


6 slices round beef steak, thinly sliced (approximately 1/4 in. thick after being pounded and 6 x 4 in. in size; the bigger the slice, the easier it is to roll)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c. Dijon mustard

6 slices bacon

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 gherkins, chopped (sour pickles or dill pickles will also do)

2 T. butter


For the gravy:

3 – 4 organic carrots, chopped

3 stalks organic celery, chopped

6 small onions

3 T. tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 – 2 c. red wine

beef stock to cover everything


Season the beef slices with salt and pepper, and spread with mustard.

Add a slice of bacon, some onions and gherkins to each slice.

Roll up the slices with the fillings inside, tucking the ends in, and secure with cooking twine, skewers, or toothpicks.

Heat butter in a cast iron pot, and brown the beef rolls well on all sides.

Remove and set aside.

Add the carrots, celery, onions, tomato paste, and bay leaves to the pot.

Add the red wine and deglaze the pot over medium heat.

Cook for 10 minutes.

After the beef rolls to the pot again, and add beef stock to cover.

Cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours.


Oma and Mom used to serve the Rinderrouladen with boiled potatoes and red cabbage. I prefer mashed potatoes or potato knödel (dumplings).


(Read A Year of Living Dangerously, the story that accompanies this recipe.)