This recipe for beef roulade came as a dare. Most of the time, that’d scare people away, but no one I talked to knew if you could cook roulade successfully in a sous vide. I mean, it would seem like you could, but in practice – how would it come out? So, not one to back down from a challenge – here’s my experiment with results in the pictures. Spoilers: It was amazing. When making this recipe at home, I do recommend making multiple short roulades, mine turned out to be 3 1/2 feet long and very cumbersome to work with. Or just cut the recipe in half (it is scaleable!) and make a smaller one.
Talk to the Experts About Beef Roulades
My favorite grocery store in the area has roulades that are very popular. I’ve become friends with the butchers behind the counter and decided that I wanted to find out how they are doing it. They revealed to me they are using thinly sliced top round, often called London Broil and filling it with feta, olives and spinach. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me. I ordered 6 pounds of it. I plan 1/2 a pound of meat per meal per person. So 6 pounds of food should be enough to feed 12 people or 3 dinners for my family of 4.
I gathered all the other filling ingredients, and added in my favorite pepper – peppadews, to add a sweet and picante flavor. Checked out and ran home to get this going.
Methodology – The Meat
The first thing you need is a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil or really high quality plastic wrap. This will make it easier to roll your beef roulade later. In the slicing process, I found that some pieces of the top round was a bit hole-y Layering two pieces of round became necessary to get a solid piece where filling wouldn’t fall out. Then I overlapped the “solid meat” pieces to create a long row of meat. Because the seasoning I put on the meat is the only seasoning for the entire roast, I seasoned the meat heavily with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and even then, it wasn’t enough. When I make this again, I’ll add more seasoning.
Methodology – The Filling
Next came the filling. The key to the filling is to leave a 2 inch border without any filling around the entire roulade. You need that area free when you roll the meat. Then you just add a layer of spinach, a layer of chopped peppadews and olives and then topped the filling with a lot of feta. Just this alone was beautiful. The next time I make this, I’ll add less filling, the roll wasn’t as tight as I’d like it to be but the filling really is so good, you want to make sure you have enough. It is a delicate balance.
Methodology – The Roll
Rolling the meat begins by taking the long side of the foil or plastic wrap and lifting it, using the solid plastic wrap to roll the meat over itself. You are not rolling the foil/plastic wrap up in the meat, instead using it as a device to lift the meat together. It is like rolling sushi if you’ve ever seen that done. You need the roll to be as tight as possible so that it holds everything together.
Once you have a good roll, you’ll want to tie the meat together using kitchen twine, securing any loose floppy bits of meat where filling could come out. I did a string every 2-3 inches, then went back and did another where the meat was especially loose. I’m by no means a professional butcher – and probably did too much, but I wanted a secure piece of meat that would fit easily into a vacuum bag. Once I had it tied, I got into my food saver bag and vacuum sealed it, removing all air so it would submerge in the water.
I decided to cook my beef roulade to a medium rare, as the meat is high quality and that’s how I like my steak. I wanted to make sure the roast was very tender. Medium rare is 129 degrees F and I cooked it for four hours (an hour per inch).
Thirty minutes before the roulade was finished, I turned the oven to 500 degrees and let it come to temperature with a cast iron skillet inside. I really want to sear the hell out of the slices, getting some nice caramelization on the meat. When it came out, as with all sous vide meat, it wasn’t really pretty – kind of a grey-ish color on the outside. I cut the string off and sliced it into two inch thick pieces. The meat bloomed into the perfect medium rare pink I was looking for as it sat. I sprinkled it with salt and brushed it with peanut oil to help aid in the browning process.
Then into the skillet it went – the sizzle was magical, and the smell was heavenly. After shutting the oven door, I switched the broiler to high and set the timer for 5 minutes. When the timer went off the cheese had begun to get some color, the meat developing a nice crust on top from the broiler. Using my tongs, I flipped the meat over. The pan had caramelized the bottom nicely, but I wanted the last bit of color – and so I shut the door again, this time for 3 1/2 minutes.
The result was magic. The meat was flavorful, seared to perfection, and the filling was melty and hot with the tiniest bit of color. Some of the cheese had melted on the pan, be sure to scrape that up and eat that too – probably the best part.
In the end I might not add the peppadews. I thought their bright flavor would add something, but it was really lost. The olives and feta are a must, with the spinach adding the slightest bit of texture that really is pleasing and clean with all the rich filling and tender meat. But the best part about the technique is that you can do this with chicken, pork, or beef and vary up the fillings too – the result will be juicy, tender meat with delicious filling. Another sous vide victory!