German Dinner Night!

Tonight we had a yummy German dinner. I am lucky enough to be half German and to have spent a good chunks of my childhood between Germany and the United States. I miss Germany tremendously and tonight brought a little bit of home to my house.  Tonight I made German potato salad, rouladen, spätzle, and homemade gravy. The recipe for the potato salad and for rouladen are both adopted from my mom. One of the most important parts of BOTH recipes is that you use GERMAN barrel pickles, not American dill pickles. The spätzle that I used were sent to me from Germany by my mom, but you can purchase spätzle in some grocery stores and it is something you can make at home too. I made the potato salad early (around 11:30a) because it needs to sit in the fridge for a few hours to really come together.
Here’s all the ingredients for tonight’s meal:

First things first, I cleaned the potatoes and put them in a pot of salted water to boil. I cooked them for about 20-25 minutes, until fork tender, but not too soft. While the potatoes are cooking, I chopped up a package of bacon into small bite size pieces. I put that mound of bacon into a skillet and cooked until nice and crispy. I put the cooked bacon into a sieve and plopped that on top of a bowl to catch the grease.

Once the potatoes were cooked, I drained the pot and let them cool enough to handle. I peeled the potatoes and then diced them up into bite sized chunks.

I popped the potato chunks into my giant pink bowl (totally bought it at the Dollar Tree and I love it!) and added some salt & pepper. At this point I took 3 German barrel pickles and chopped them into small pieces. I added the pickles into the bowl with the potatoes and mixed it up.

Next I added a 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and about a 1/4 cup of the pickle juice from the barrel pickles. This part you really have to judge throughout putting everything together. If you notice it’s too dry, add a little more of either the broth or the pickle juice. I always start with a smaller amount because you can always add more, you can’t take it back out once it’s in there though! Mix everything together and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the potatoes to start absorbing the liquid.
20160227_125220Now add about 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise (again, start with a smaller amount, and you can always add more if you want it creamier) and mix it all together.

Next I added the bacon and mixed it all in… Everything tastes better with bacon!
20160227_130109Finally, I added chopped up hard boiled eggs, 3 of them to be exact. Since I have known all week that I was going to be making this, I went ahead and boiled the eggs last night and peeled them. I put them in a little sandwich bag and put them in the refrigerator until I was ready to use them.

At this point I did a quick taste test, put some plastic wrap over the bowl, and put it in the fridge until dinner was ready a few hours later. Just before serving I mixed everything up again, checked to see if I needed to add anything (more liquid, salt, or pepper). I also cut up one more egg and put it on top as a little garnish.

The rouladen can take a bit of time so you have to make sure you have at least 2-3 hours before you’re expecting to eat. I bought wafer thin beef milanesa to use for the meat. Before really getting into the building process, I sliced up some onion (about an 1/8 of an onion in slices, the rest chopped), 3 small carrots, and 2 long celery stalks. All of the veggies were set aside. I sliced 2 German pickles into spears and then I got to the building part!
On a cutting board I gathered everything I needed.
20160227_155017
First I added salt and pepper to the meat. Then I took some Bavarian mustard (very yummy, but you can make it with regular mustard as well if that’s what you prefer) and spread it all over 1 side of the meat. I then added 2 slices of uncooked bacon on top of the mustard.

Next, I added 1 spear of pickle and a couple slivers of onion. Then I rolled everything together and stuck some toothpicks in to keep the meat together.

I continued this with all 4 that I made (I made 2 with German mustard and pickles and 2 with American mustard and no pickles). I put all 4 in a large skillet, added a little salt & pepper on the outside and a pad of butter over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted I let the meat brown up real nice and get a good crust on it. Once there was a good crust, I added the carrots, celery, and a can of beef broth. I set the timer for an hour and a half and lowered the heat about midway between low and medium. Let everything simmer and add a little water if needed.

Once the meat is completely cooked through, I removed the meat and strained the liquid into a bowl so I could use it for the gravy. I put 3 tablespoons of butter into a deeper skillet and melted it over medium heat. I added 3 tablespoons of flour and created a roux. As the flour taste cooked out I added the liquid reserved earlier along with some of the diced onions (3 tablespoons or so, but really it’s definitely a taste preference). I whisked everything together and then added about 2 cups of water with some beef bouillon dissolved in it to the pot.

While working on the gravy I was also bringing a pot of salted water to boil. Once the water was boiling I added 1/2 a bag of the spätzle. I turned down the heat to keep it cooking without overflowing and allowed the spätzle to cook through (about 6-8 minutes). I drained the spätzle and everything was done!
20160227_181746It was now time to plate this super yummy dish! It went over really well with the family (well JH, A, and myself since J is spending the night at my brother’s house!)
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I really hope you all enjoy this meal as much as my family did! You can definitely switch it up and put different things with it. You can use the potato salad for any meal or even add some veggies to this meal. I was originally going to add the carrots and celery to the sauce, but they were pretty much done for after cooking with the meat for an hour and a half and I just ran out of time so I couldn’t dice up any more to add to the gravy.

Recipe

German Potato Salad
5 lb bag of russet potatoes (rinsed clean)
3-4 German barrel pickles1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup of pickle juice
3-4 hard boiled eggs (I made mine the night before so that was 1 less thing to do the day of)
1 pack bacon (cut into bite size pieces)
1/2 cup mayo

Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 20-25 minutes or until fork tender, but not too soft. While the potatoes are cooking, fry up the bacon until crispy and drain the fat. Drain the potatoes and let cool enough to be able to handle. Peel the potatoes and dice into bite size chunks. Place the potatoes into a large bowl and add salt and pepper to taste. Dice up the pickles into small pieces and dump in the bowl. Add the vegetable broth and the pickle juice. Mix all together and let sit for a few minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb the liquid a bit. Add the mayo and mix. Add the bacon, mix well. Chop up the hard boiled eggs (reserving 1 to add as a garnish at the end). Add the eggs, mix and give it a taste to check if it’s seasoned to your liking. While making it check to see if you need to add more liquid or more mayo (depending on how creamy you want it). Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for a few hours to allow the flavors to really come together. Just before serving mix well and add the last chopped egg as garnish.

Rouladen
1 pack wafer thin Beef Milanesa top round steak
Mustard (I use both Bavarian German mustard and regular American mustard)
1-2 German barrel pickles, cut into spears
1 sliced onion
1 package bacon
salt & pepper to taste
3 diced/chopped carrots
2 diced/chopped celery stalks
1 can beef broth
2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1-2 cup warm water with 2-3 teaspoons of beef bouillon dissolved in it.
Wooden toothpicks

Lay out the beef, salt & pepper to taste. Spread a thin layer of mustard on one side of the beef. Lay 1 to 2 pieces of bacon on top of the mustard. Add 1 pickle spear and a few sliced onions on the larger end of the beef. Roll the beef and secure with a few toothpicks. Repeat with all remaining pieces (mine yielded 4 rouladen). Place all rouladen in a large skillet, season with a little salt & pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of butter into the center of the pan and turn the heat on medium. Melt the butter and begin searing the rouladen evenly on all sides. Once the rouladen begin to brown up add the carrots, celery, and the can of beef broth, bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, checking occasionally to ensure there is enough liquid. If the liquid cooks out, add water a 1/2 cup at a time until meat is cooked through. Turn the rouladen occasionally to ensure even cooking. Once the meat is done, remove the meat from the skillet, throw out the vegetables, and reserve the liquid. In a deep skillet add the 3 tablespoons of butter, melt. Add the flour and whisk to create a roux. Add milk, the reserved liquid, and the warm water with the bouillon (start with 1 cup and add until you get the consistency you want). Whisk continuously to ensure there are no clumps. I added some of the onions to the gravy to add some taste. You can also add some diced up carrots and celery to the gravy if you’d like. Rouladen tastes wonderful with spätzle (bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the spätzle, cook for 6-8 minutes, and drain), but you can also make it with rice or some kind of pasta.

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