Upon first reading the title above, in culinary terms, lamb tapenade rouladen sounds a bit unusual. Tapenade is an olive-based spread typically served as part of an appetizer dish. Rouladen is traditionally german dish of thinly sliced beef rolled with pickles and mustard. They’re both fine and good; but why not take the two in a different direction?
One of my favourite things to do with lamb is to cut it into thin cutlets and roll it with any number of stuffing blends. In its first incarnation, the rouladen were rolled with a blend of crumbled feta, garlic and fresh rosemary. The swirl pattern in the cross section once they were cut was very eye-catching.
Gone are my days of enjoying great amounts of cheese (dairy doesn’t agree with me as much as I wish it still did); but this didn’t stop me from enjoying lamb rouladen. In the spirit of keeping it in the range of Mediterranean flavour scope, I chose to replace the feta with olives and capers. The resulting dish, lamb tapenade rouladen hit the mark beautifully.
Now, I acknowledge I should expand on the butchering involved in this dish. I know not everyone reading this has strong butchering or knife skills; I didn’t either until I started making this dish; the secret is to read the muscle structure. Pay attention to how the muscles come apart and use that as your guide.
The rouladen, once assembled and set in the wine, can live up to 48 hours in the fridge before being cooked. This can help deepen the flavours as the wine will act as a marinade. The most important part of this whole process is to not overcook the lamb; you want an internal temperature of about 145F and to let it sit for a good few minutes before serving.
Lamb Tapenade Rouladen
- Cutting board and a sharp, sharp knife
- Zester or microplane
- Food processor or hand blender
- Casserole or walled roasting pan
- 1.5 lb lamb leg boneless netted is good for this.
- 1 whole lemon zested and juiced
- 12-18 olives pitted
- 6 cloves garlic roasted garlic is even better; see the pro tip on the home page
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1/4 cup rosemary chopped
- 1/4 cup mint chiffonade for garnish
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 whole bay leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350F
- Gently cut the lamb along its natural muscle fault lines by slowly slitting the connective tissue; removing the excess fat as you go. See the video for details.
- As shown in the attached video, make an incision on the underside of each piece of lamb and roll it over as the knife cuts parallel to the cutting board until it has rolled open to be a flat flap. Once done, set each piece aside.
- Zest and juice the lemon and pit the olives into a bowl.
- Add the capers, pepper and rosemary. Blend it with the oil until a coarse consistency is reached.
- Lay out the lamb pieces flat and spread an appropriate amount of the olive/caper blend on each one. Roll into a firm pack (not too tight; you don't want to force the filling out) and place in the roasting pan.
- Add the wine and bay leaves to the roasting pan. Any leftover olive/caper mix can be slathered over the top of the rouladen. Here you can cover the whole thing and let it sit up to 48 hours in the fridge, or just fire it straight into the oven.
- Once in the oven, give it about 20-25 minutes. Remove and let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Slice into 1/4" thick medallions and fan out on the plate that best displays the cross section.Enjoy!