I was first introduced to the wonder that is Rolladin when I was a small child (probably right around the time I started to eat solid food). My oma would often make it for Sunday dinner. Unfortunately, I was still quite young when Oma needed to move into an assisted living facility and could no longer cook for us. I quickly forgot about Rolladin.
Fast forward about a decade and I arrived home to my uncle's house after a long day of college to smell the most wondrous scents coming from the kitchen. Being a reasonably disciplined student, I went straight down to the basement to work on my homework until my aunt called me for supper, hoping the smells wouldn't drive me to distraction in the meantime. When supper finally arrived, I hurried upstairs to come to a screeching halt in front of the table. Some strange meaty objects were displayed in the middle of the table. Warily eyeing the concoctions, I asked, "What is that?" in my most polite "I'm-really-hungry-but-don't-want-to-eat-anything-weird" voice. My aunt replied, without batting an eye, "Rolladin. I just made them in muffin tins instead of sticking toothpicks into them."
That was quite possibly the least helpful response I have ever received to that question. My next question brought my aunt's final supper preparations to a stop. "What's Rolladin?" My aunt is German. My dad's side of the family is German. My mom is not German. I hadn't had Rolladin in a decade, and my aunt couldn't believe that I didn't know such a classic German dish. "You've had Rolladin before!" she exclaimed. "Your Oma always used to make it. Don't you remember?" Of course I didn't, but I figured if Oma used to make it, it must be pretty good, so I joined the rest of the family at the table and tentatively tried the stuff. It was delicious!
My mom couldn't believe that I had forgotten Rolladin when I called and told her that night. So, the next time I came home for a visit from college, she and I made Rolladin together. It turns out, I did vaguely remember it; I just needed to see it made with the toothpicks for my memory to kick in properly.
If you are unfamiliar with this classic German dish, I urge you to try it. It's delicious! We generally use 2 toothpicks to a roll. You can find rolladin in the meat department of the grocery store. It's very thinly sliced beef. Try not to forget the pickle - it tastes okay without, but it's a bit disappointing. We generally serve this dish with mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables.
6 rolladen slices (or round steak pounded thin with a mallet)*
Prepared mustard – 1 tsp. per slice
2 large onions, finely chopped
12 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 slices dill pickle
Lay meat flat and spread each slice with prepared mustard. Cover each slice with chopped onion and chopped bacon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 slice of dill pickle to each slice of meat.
Roll up each slice of meat and filling carefully, and fasten with toothpicks to keep the filling in.
Brown rolls in a heavy skillet using a small amount of shortening.**
Place browned rolls into a casserole dish, add drippings from skillet plus 1 cup of water. Cover and bake in 300F oven until tender, approximately 2-2 1/2 hours.
Remove meat rolls, thicken liquid with cornstarch and correct seasoning***
*I find that the filling makes more than the 6 slices that the recipe calls for; it usually makes double the number of slices.
**I just use my non-stick pan and no shortening.
***I don’t do this, I just use the sauce as is.
"Thyme to Cook – Evangel Assembly Cookbook," recipe contributed by Sharon Zuch