Elk Rouladen

One of the funniest parts about cooking is that you never know where or when the inspiration for a dish is going to come. Old family favorites or a Disney movie you just never know when the idea is going to hit you. These Rouladen are one of those things that I would never have guessed I would make. After all I have never made them before and the only time I have ever eaten them was when I was in the army and they served them in the chow hall. I remember eating them and thinking, god what a mess, why would anyone want to eat these. I now work at the VA hospital in Minneapolis and I see these horrible looking things on the patients menu from time to time. I actually see a lot of things I used to have in the military on the menu at the VA. None of it ever made me stop and think, Oh I can't wait to try that at home. For whatever reason the last time they served rouladen I felt the urge to look them up and see how they are supposed to be made.

The Roulade's I had in the Army were just slices of beef rolled around mashed potatoes and cooked in gravy. The ones at the VA aren't much different. When I looked them up I found out that the reason I didn't care for them is because the ones I had experienced weren't cooked the way they are supposed to be. And for a guy who claims that everything can be tasty if you cook it right I decided to take on the challenge. 

Rouladen are traditionally made with beef or veal although after some digging I found that the dish was originally made with venison and in some areas pork. It is never sliced beef that has been rolled around potatoes. Most versions are some type of cheap cut of beef that has been pounded out flat. Then stuffed with mustard, bacon, onion and pickles, rolled and then braised in some type of red wine to make a gravy. I just happened to have some nice elk chops and some homemade gherkins so all I would need is some bacon. I grabbed some great Thielen's bacon and I was set to make my rouladen.  

I was completely blown away at how wonderful a properly made rouladen could be. The elk was fork tender and the bacon, onion, pickle stuffing was amazing. You might think that this was a really heavy dish but it really didn't feel that way. The gherkins really brighten it up and if you don't overdue the gravy It is really a nice dish.

Elk Rouladen 

6 elk chops (you could use venison or beef or pork)
6 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 of a red onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
12 good sized gherkins or 6 pickle spears
Dijon mustard
flour to dredge the rouladen season with salt and pepper
butchers twine to tie the rouladen
2 cups venison stock (or beef stock)
1 cup red wine

1. Prepare your chops buy placing them one at a time in a one gallon freezer bag and pounding them out flat until they are about a 1/4 inch thick. season them with a little salt and pepper and set them aside. 
2. dice the bacon and the onion and then start to cook the bacon over medium heat. When the bacon has rendered out some of its fat add the onions and cook until the onions are soft and the bacon is almost crispy. 
3. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to soak up all the bacon fat, then set aside the bacon mixture. 
4. on each piece of pounded out meat add about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and spread it around.
5. Add a couple of spoon fulls of the bacon mixture and a few of the gherkins.
6. roll the rouldaen and tie them up with the butchers twine, then roll them in the flour
7. heat some olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat and brown the rolls on all sides about two minutes each side. 
8. add the stock and wine, cover and simmer for about an hour and a half or until the rouladen are tender.
9.If the stock and wine need to be thickened you can mix a couple tablespoons of flour with some cold water until it forms a loose paste then stir the paste into the cooking liquid. when the gravy thickens ad the rouladen back into the pan and cover with gravy. 
10. Serve the rouladen with braised cabbage and boiled potatoes or some type of dumpling or spaetzle.