Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bife rolê (Brazilian-Style Beef Rolls)

This week, my dear friend KJ Mohr, her twins, and parents stopped to visit us and I cooked bife rolê for them. When I opened the bubbling pot on the table, Kristin said: “Rouladen is my mom’s specialty!”. I did not know Germans had their version of beef rolls - with mustard, bacon and sometimes pickles, “but no tomato sauce”, as KJ’s mom explained to me. Fortunately, they all seemed to like the Brazilian version, especially the twins!

My mom used to make bife rolê for us very often, and I remember well untying them at the table and picking up every last bit of meat attached to the twine. Although they can be a little time consuming, it’s an easy way of transforming an inexpensive cut of meat in a delightful meal. I hope you also enjoy this Brazilian version of rouladen, that has also been published in Portuguese, in 2011, at the wonderful Mapa da Cachaça website.

Bife rolê 
(Brazilian-Style Beef Rolls)

1 lb thinly sliced (1/4 in) beef round cutlets
3 slices bacon
2 medium carrots
2 green onions

1 tsp salt
ground black pepper, to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp red or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
toothpicks or kitchen twine to secure the rolls

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup beef stock

1 tbsp chopped flat parsley, to garnish

1. Pound the cutlets with a beef mallet, being carefully not to tear the meat. Cut into strips approximately 4 in wide. Cut the carrots and spring onions into sticks about 4 in long. Cut each bacon slice into 3 segments.
2. Rub the garlic, salt, and black pepper together to form a paste. Mix in the vinegar and the 1 tsp oil. Season the cutlets with this paste.
3. To roll each cutlet, place a piece of bacon, a stick of carrot and a piece of green onion at one end of the strip. Roll up tightly and secure the end with one or two toothpicks, or use a piece of kitchen twine to tie it.
4. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Brown the beef rolls on all sides. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add the chopped tomato and cook until it starts to form a sauce.
5. Add the stock, stir well and cover the pan. Lower the heat and cook, stirring every now and then, until the rolls are tender and the sauce has thickened and reduced (30 minute to 1 hour, depending on the tenderness of the meat).
6. Adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve, with rice or mashed potato.

- If you are in a hurry, cook in a pressure cooker, for 15 minutes. If you have plenty of time, use a slow cooker, after browning the meat. In either case, use less stock. Reduce the sauce in the stove before serving, if necessary.
- You can make these rolls with pork, turkey and chicken cutlets, and using other stuffing ingredients, for example: sliced ham, zucchini sticks, dried plums or apricots, leaf vegetables such as collard greens and spinach, sausage, etc.)