AT THE TABLE WITH: Russell Mitman

Russell Mitman
Russell Mitman

His full title is the Rev. Dr. J. Russell Mitman — but to his parishioners he is just “Pastor.” He came to Parkside United Church of Christ in Phoenixville, PA in 2011 to fill in until a new minister was found for the church. He remains there today — he flaunts retirement.

He and his wife, Ruth of 53 years reside in Collegeville. There are two children, Curt and his wife Mary and Lucy Wagner and her husband Ed and two Wagner grandchildren. He and Ruth met at her third birthday party in their hometown of Pennsburg, Pa.

Pastor Mitman received his A.B. from Franklin & Marshall. Attended seminary at Drew University and received his M.T.H.M. from Princeton. He is a writer with six books under his belt, along with numerous articles.

Being of German descendant the Mitmans have made many visits in the last 23 years to Germany. On a recent trip, they took their grandchildren (Montana & Bo Wagner) with them.


Do you remember Jeff Smith from PBS Saturday cooking shows (The Frugal Gourmet) he was a classmate of Pastor Mitman. As well as an usher in the Mitmans’ wedding party. Both gentlemen attended Drew University during their seminary studies and remain friends until Smith’s death.

The Parkside Church founded its roots in 1900 as the Hungarian/Slovak Reformed Church on Buttonwood Street & Third Avenue. A new church was built in 1931 where it remains today on Main Street at Third Avenue. In 1980 the church’s congregation became the Hungarian United Church of Christ until the change in 2011 to Parkside United Church of Christ. The church’s motto is “Whoever you are and wherever you are in life’s journey, you are welcomed here”.

There are other interests along with his work and writings. He tools around in his maroon Mazda MX-5 sports car. There is his love of food and cooking. He proclaims to be a cook and not a baker. He learned many of his cooking techniques in the kitchen of Vietnam friends. He loves the infusion of foods.

There is a monthly meeting during the winter months at Parkside of a group called Kitchen Club. This last Christmas he and I prepared a Seven Fishes Feast (a Jeff Smith recipe) for December’s presentation. The feast along with an antipasto salad seem to be a big hit.

Pastor Mitman’s recipe for:

German Rouladen of Beef

Serves 8 to 10.


3 lbs. fresh cut or frozen chipsteak – about 18 to 20 pieces.

¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

6 Tbsp. Bavarian sweet mustard


2 medium-size sweet Vidalia onions, peeled & finely chopped

¼ lb. bacon, finely chopped

1 cup freshly minced parsley

3 medium-size pickles, minced (not too sour)


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine

2 Tbsp. peanut oil

1 large carrot. Peeled & coarsely chopped

1 large Vidalia onion, peeled & thinly sliced

1 large celery rib, peeled & thinly6 sliced

½ freshly minced parsley

3 ½ cups rich beef broth (preferably homemade)


Roulade liquid & solids

¼ cup tomato paste

¼ cup Half-and-Half

¼ cup evaporated skim milk

Salt & pepper to taste

On wax papered counter sprinkle both sides of beef with fresh ground pepper. Spread each side of beef with the mustard, using a one teaspoon for each. Set aside. In a large heavy skillet stir-fry onions & bacon over moderate heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until onions are glazed. Mix in parsley – allow to cool to room temperature and stir in pickles. Place a tablespoon mound of filling on each end of each piece of meat. Spread filling evenly allowing 3/8” on both sides & 1” at far side. Roll the meat up tightly toward - secure with toothpick. Pinch each end together so that the filling won’t come out. Repeat using up all the meat pieces. Melt butter in large skillet for 1 to 2 minutes on moderately-high until it sizzles. Brown roulades well on all sides (about 5 to 10 minutes) keep turning to allow from burning. Reduce heat – add carrot, onion, celery & parsley continue to cook with meat additional 5 minutes. Add broth & bring to a boil - simmer – just a tremble. Cover the skillet & allow to simmer for 1¼ to 1½ hours. Remove meat with slotted spoon to shallow pan – cover & keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid, saving both liquid & solids. Hard boil liquid in skillet uncovered to reduce about one-third. Puree solids in electric blender at a high speed. Blend together liquids, solids with tomato paste, half-in-half * skim milk, season with salt & pepper. Return meat to skillet and warm slowly in the gravy (5 to 10 Minutes), baste often. Gravy will curdle if allow to boil. Serve immediately.


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