Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Christmas Dinner: Festive Alternatives 1

We have had many Christmases in countries where a traditional ham will not do, and is often not available. While turkey is always possible, we find we are not so eager for another turkey so close to Thanksgiving. We’ve tried all kinds of alternatives – duck (once, and everyone said “yuk” because it is so greasy), roast beef (nobody thought it was that special,) shrimp (always a winner in our house) – but one of the all time favorites is rouladen.

It is only intimidating the first time you try it, and then you laugh at how easy it is. When rolling, tuck the sides in before the final roll, and place tucked side down in the baking pan.


Rouladen is a German word that means rolls. The shutters that roll down over the window are rouladen. Little packets of meat roled around a savory stuffing are rouladen. This recipe are not authentic German rouladen, but an evolution over the year to what we like. This is also an approximation, but these work! They are delicious as a meal – and even more delicious as leftovers, but there usually isn’t much left over.

The Sultan center cuts round steak in long thin strips. (about 3-4 inches wide and 10 – 12 inches long) Those work fine.

Not in Kuwait? Find a butcher that will make rouladen cuts of meat! Usually the more expensive supermarkets will have someone who knows how to do rouladen cuts.

Buy a wooden or metal mallet. Pound the rouladen cutlets very thin. This will make them cook up very tender. The goal is that you can cut and eat them with a fork – that tender.

Crisply fried bacon, crumbled
Dill pickles, chopped small, but not as small as relish
Grated carrot
Green onions, chopped
Sharp mustard
Coarse pepper

Spray your baking pan with oil to protect it from the heavy baked on tomato sauce.

Spread a thin coat of sharp mustard on each slice of meat, then sprinkle with carrot, pickle, bacon, salt and pepper. Roll up, tucking large side flaps inside, and place in a baking pan with the end of the roll down.

Sauce: 2 Cans tomato sauce, 1 cup red wine (does not have to be good stuff) 1 Tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon mild paprika – sauce will be thin and should cover the rouladen (make more sauce if it doesn’t). Tuck in a bay leaf or two. In Kuwait, no red wine, use some red vinegar or balsamic vinegar to liven the sauce.

Bake: Heat oven to 325, pour sauce over meat rolls, and bake slowly two hours or so. It will start to smell yummy, and the sauce will thicken. When you serve the rolls, they will be so tender (thanks to the combination of wine and tomato) you can cut them just with a fork.

Serve with noodles, or with rice, or with potatoes to soak up the gravy.

Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)

Heads of red cabbage are available in Kuwait, even in the co-ops. This dish makes a great accompaniement to the rouladen, and has a lovely color, too. It is so so easy.

1 small red cabbage, sliced thinly
1 small apple, sliced thinly
1 cup grape jelly
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup grape or cranberry juice

Bring juice,vinegar, jelly, cinnamon, clove and sugar to a boil, add cabbage and apple, stir thoroughly and turn down fire to very low. Simmer for 45 minutes – the house will smell wonderful and the cabbage will shrink to a small amount. Serve with ham or turkey or rouladen.

December 22, 2006 - Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Holiday, Recipes


  1. I love Rotkohl as well, and like your recipe. Here’s a link to my post about Rolladen (regional differences in spelling and recipe (no pickles, carrot or mustard in mine), but then I’ve always known there were different versions. Riannan/In the Headlights (thanks for the kind words.)

    Comment by Riannan | December 22, 2006 | Reply

  2. […] Swedish Pot Roast You don’t think of fine cooking when you think of Sweden, and yet this pot roast is one of my family’s all time favorites. It has a unique flavor, sweet and rich, and you need a pressure cooker to fix this. It is old fashioned, but the taste is amazing. It’s a great January kind of meal, served with potatoes and maybe some Rot Kohl / Red Cabbage. […]

    Pingback by Swedish Pot Roast « Here There and Everywhere | January 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. […] Some of the things I served I have shared with you before: Autumn Plum Torte Cauliflower Salad Soused Apple Cake Rotkohl […]

    Pingback by Welcome Home Dinner and Empress Rice Recipe « Here There and Everywhere | August 23, 2010 | Reply

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