One of the things I love most about food history research (which is surely true of most research – and if not, it should be) – is happening across something I have never heard of before, while I was looking for something else entirely. It happened to me recently – I forget what the original subject of my search was, but the serendipitous find was ‘rolliches.’
I discovered rolliches in a book I have referred to many times before - The market assistant, containing a brief description of every article of human food sold in the public markets of the cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn; including the various domestic and wild animals, poultry, game, fish, vegetables, fruits &c., &c. with many curious incidents and anecdotes (New York, 1867) by Thomas de Voe. This is the piece:
Rolliches (from the Dutch word rolletje). — This peculiar meat preparation was once a famous dish among the ancient Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, and although the making of it has almost been discontinued in our (New York) State, yet there are many old families in New Jersey and other places, who continue on from year to year, in preparing this as one of their principal dishes, to be used throughout the winter months, especially where fresh meat is only occasionally to be procured. It is found to be a wholesome article of food when properly prepared, and for the following receipt I am indebted to Mrs. Ann Hill, who has prepared and assisted in its preparation for about twenty years. She says: "Take the fresh, uncooked, but well-cleaned tripe, cut it into eight or ten as near square pieces as possible; then cut up the flanks and tops of sirloin pieces of beef, in strips, about as large as a good-sized finger, and lay them so as fat and lean will mix throughout, and enough to fill each piece of the tripe; pepper and salt should be well sprinkled between each layer of meat (some also add herbs to give peculiar flavors); then sew them up tightly and put them into a large pot, and boil slowly, until a broom-wisk or rye-straw can be pushed into them without breaking; they are then taken out, put under a weight, and left so all night; next morning the fat is skimmed off from the liquor, when the rolliches are put into a tight tub or pot, and a mixture of half vinegar and half pot-liquor is poured over, and enough to cover them; then a weight placed on top to keep them under. When wanted, one or more is taken out, cut up into thin slices, and warmed up in the liquor in a frying-pan, when they are found to be excellent eating."
They are occasionally found in our markets, having been brought in by the Jersey Dutchmen, who sold them in ordinary times for about twenty-five cents per pound.
Another recipe, with more in the way of spicing appears in The Thrift Cook Book (Philadelphia, 1919) by Marion Harris Neil.
Rolliches—An Old Dutch Dish
Uncooked tripe 1 bay leaf
Flank or sirloin beef 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon salt Vinegar
½ teaspoon powdered mace Garlic
¼ teaspoon powdered allspice
½ teaspoon white pepper
Rolliches are a delicious supper dish. Take fresh and well cleaned tripe, and cut as nearly eight inches square as possible. Cut beef into finger length strips, mixing fat and lean, and seasoning well with seasonings mixed together. A teaspoon each of powdered thyme, summer savory and sage may be added if liked to other seasonings. Fill squares of tripe with seasoned meat, and roll up like sausages. Put these rolls into a kettle of boiling water and let them simmer until the rolliches are quite tender. Remove from the fire, put a weight on top, and leave rolls in the liquor eight hours, by end of which time the liquor should be a jelly. Melt liquor, mix it with one-half its measure of vinegar, then scald and cool. Put rolliches in it, adding one sliced clove of garlic to each gallon of vinegar. The rolliches will be ready to use in a week, but will be better in two weeks.