What is a Roulade?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Roulade is a French term meaning “rolled,” and refers to a family of foods which are, not surprisingly, rolled. Roulades can be sweet or savory, and they come in a wide variety of guises, from vegan delicacies to meat-rich extravaganzas. Some markets and delis carry pre-made roulades, and it is also possible to make a roulade at home, for cooks who like to have more control over their ingredients. These foods are also an offering on some restaurant menus.

Raspberry jam is a common filling in a jelly roll, a type of roulade.
Raspberry jam is a common filling in a jelly roll, a type of roulade.

In order to make roulade, cooks require a substance to roll around a filling. Meats are commonly used as a rolling medium in savory roulades, but it is also possible to use pastry, cakes, sushi nori, and a wide variety of other ingredients. Essentially, as long as it can be rolled, it can be used to make roulade. Fillings are also quite varied, depending on what type of roulade is being made, and they can include things like wild rice, roasted vegetables, seasoned meats, cheeses, and bread stuffings.

Breadcrumbs are used to make the filling for a classic meat roulade.
Breadcrumbs are used to make the filling for a classic meat roulade.

In a classic meat roulade, meat is tenderized before being rolled around a filling made from vegetables, breadcrumbs, and sometimes other meats or seafood. Once the ingredients have been rolled together, they are trussed or pinned so that the roulade does not lose its shape before it is browned and then braised or roasted, depending on the taste of the cook. You may also hear meat roulades referred to as braciola or paupiette.

For vegetarians, seitan can be used to wrap a vegetarian version of meat roulade, and the filling can include mixed vegetables, tofu, or tempeh. Whether vegetarian or not, savory roulade is commonly served with gravy or another sauce designed to intensify the flavor of the roulade. Sweet sauces like cranberry jelly, orange sauce, or mint sauce can also be used with savory roulades to create a flavor contrast.

Sweet roulades are typically made from sponge cake or pastry, rolled around a soft filling like jam or pastry cream. Jelly rolls and other rolled desserts develop a pinwheel pattern which some people find quite aesthetically pleasing, especially when dressed with a dessert sauce. Pastry can also be used to make savory roulades, with the filling being made from meat or vegetables instead of a sweet ingredient.

A roulade filling might include wild rice.
A roulade filling might include wild rice.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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