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A few years ago I discovered a new recipe for Oktoberfest and made German Venison Rouladen. It’s fabulously flavorful and possibly my new favorite German food. If you’re not familiar with this recipe, think thin slices of venison rolled up around bacon, onion, and cornichons (German pickles), then slow-cooked in wine until they are fall-apart-fork-tender. Delicious!
(Post modified on 10/2/23.)
I actually liken this dish to a German-version of Beef Bourguignon, though, I’m sure any French cooks visiting this site would cringe at such words. But really, they are very similar, both in the ingredients and the cooking technique. The meat is seared and then placed in a stew base of carrots, onion, and garlic. Tomato paste is added for depth, and then the meat is slow-cooked in wine and broth until incredibly tender. However, there are no mushrooms in this dish. See my recipe for Beef Bourguignon Here.
Instead, the Rouladen are slathered with Dijon mustard and then wrapped around bacon, onion, and yes, a little pickle. Some recipes use a sliced dill pickle or gherkin pickle, but I found these sweet little German Cornichons at Aldi Grocery, which worked perfectly for this dish. I think they are a seasonal product, so if you happen to spot them in the store, grab a few jars.
The first time I made this recipe, I used a dark beer, instead of wine. The result was eh so-so. The second time I used wine, and the dish was more rich and flavorful. Much better.
Most of the recipes I found online used wine, and most were made from beef. Since we have a lot of deer meat in our freezer, I thought it would be fun to make this dish with venison. And the slow-cooked process worked well with the wild game.
If you don’t have access to venison, you may substitute round beef instead. Plus, if you purchase the beef, consider having the grocery butcher slice the meat in 1/4″ strips.
Like Beef Bourguignon, there are several steps to this recipe, but the end results are so worth it.
More German Recipes to Enjoy
- German Spaetzle with Cabbage
- German Cabbage with Bacon
- Pork Schnitzel with Cream Sauce
- Bierocks with Sausage and Cabbage
Ingredients for German Venison Rouladen
(See the entire recipe at the bottom of this post.)
- venison backstrap or loin
- thick sliced bacon
- Dijon mustard
- red onion
- vegetable oil for searing the meat
- olive oil and butter for cooking the vegetables
- sweet onion
- tomato paste
- beef bouillon + water for a beef broth
- bay leaf
- all-purpose flour + water for thickener
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Instructions for Making this Recipe
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks set to the lower portion of the oven. Gather your ingredients so that you have everything close at hand on the counter or table.
Prepare the Ingredients
Using a cutting board and a sharp filet or santoku knife, slice the venison backstrap or loin into thin strips, about 1/4″ thickness. Pound the meat with a meat mallet to thin them out even more, but be careful not to tear holes in them. Place the flattened strips of venison on a large baking sheet.
When using a meat mallet, I like to place the venison slices in a gallon bag to protect the work area from splatters. Also, I use the flat side of the mallet so that I don’t tear holes in the meat.
Slice the bacon in half.
Using a second cutting board and a clean Santoku or Chef’s knife, halve and slice the red onion into thin pieces. Slice the celery into thin pieces. Place in a medium bowl for use later.
Peel and dice the carrots. Dice the sweet onion. Mince the garlic. Place with the celery for use later.
Make a beef broth with bouillon cubes and boiling water.
Assemble the Rouladen
For ease of assembling, have premeasured bowls of bacon, Dijon mustard, cornichons, and red onions. You’ll also want a handful of large wooden toothpicks or skewers.
Lay a row of venison slices on a work area. If you have the space, go ahead and lay out all of the slices for ease of putting it all together. Spread the Dijon mustard over the meat.
Next, place a piece of bacon lengthwise on the meat, followed by some red onion and a cornichon at the base of each strip of meat.
Begin rolling the meat tightly, keeping everything together. Secure the end with a long toothpick or wooden skewer. Place the rolled meat on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining strips of venison.
Once you have all the meat rolled, heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat with vegetable oil. Sear the rolls of meat until the sides are nicely browned. You’ll want to cook the meat in batches of 4 or 6, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Transfer the browned Rouladen to the baking tray and repeat until all of the rolls have been nicely seared.
Prepare the Sauce
Add olive oil and butter to the Dutch oven and sauté the prepared onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook on medium low until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or spurtle.
Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Create a hole in the center of the pot and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir into the vegetables.
Pour in the wine and scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Always use the browned bits from the bottom of the pan when preparing a dish like this as it will add even more deep flavor to your dish.
Nestle the browned Rouladen into the pot in layers. Pour the prepared beef bouillon over the meat until it almost covers the meat. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven on one of the lower racks. Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
After the allotted baking time, check the venison for tenderness. If needed, continue baking in covered Dutch oven for an additional 20-30 minutes until the meat is fork tender.
Once the Rouladen are quite tender, carefully transfer the meat rolls to a platter. Pick out the bay leaves from the sauce and discard. If desired, strain the vegetables for serving on the side.
I usually leave the vegetables in the pot and blend them into the liquid with an immersion blender. If you want a more traditional gravy, then simply strain the vegetables from the pot and continue on with the instructions.
Prepare a thickener by whisking together the all-purpose flour and water to make a thin paste. Whisk into the sauce and cook on medium-low heat until it thickens.
Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired. Add butter and stir until incorporated.
Carefully remove the toothpicks or wooden skewers from the meat and return them back to the Dutch oven, coating them evenly with the thickened sauce. Simmer for a few minutes until heated through.
Transfer Rouladen and Sauce to a Serving Bowl or Platter.
Serve with mashed potatoes or German Spaetzle. This dish goes well with many German Foods. See more German Recipes Here.
This recipe will serve 8-10 people.
Browse Main Dishes Here. View Venison Recipes Here.
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