In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates beef olives – a deliciously traditional dish enjoyed across Europe.
I’ve often heard about beef olives but in never sounded that appetising. I didn’t realise though that I’ve been eating if for years. My German grandmother would often cook rouladen, which is the same as beef olives, and it’s delicious!
I have early memories of my mum pounding meat with a rolling pin, which I’m sure was for roulade. Most parts of Europe have their equivalent recipes and one of the earliest I found was in Hannah Glasse’s 1747 book, The Art of Cookery. I based my dish on a modern version frombbcgoodfood.com.
400g of beef thinly sliced (any cut)
1 tbsp of dijon mustard
1 medium onion
250ml red wine
600ml beef stock
2 tbsp of passata
For the stuffing:
1 small onion
3 rashers of smoked bacon
1 tsp of thyme leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 175˚C. Fry the onions, garlic and mushrooms until soft. Add to the raw bacon and set aside: this is your stuffing.
Place the beef on a flat surface and beat with a rolling pin or food hammer until very thin – this part is very satisfying!
Spread each beef slice with the mustard, add the stuffing and then roll the beef slice (with the stuffing inside). Secure with a cocktail stick or string. Fry on all sides until brown and place in an oven-proof dish.
Fry the remaining onion, carrot and celery in a pan for five minutes. Add passata, red wine and beef stock and stir. Pour over the beef olives and cook in the oven, with a lid on, for three hours.
Remove the beef olives from the dish and keep warm. Blend the remaining sauce until no lumps remain.
This was really delicious, despite the fact I let it cook too long so the gravy vanished (as you can see from the photo). But with mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s a very hearty dinner.