Braciola is slow food–weekend fare for people who love to cook.
I enjoy chopping the ingredients and pounding the meat. There is art in rolling the beef and stuffing, making neat little bundles of yum. Aromas tantalize while the beef tenderizes in the simmering sauce, increasing everyone’s anticipation.
Braciola is best when it’s prepared with love. Here’s how I make mine (serves 2):
- 2 small sirloin steaks (4 ounces each), pounded to 1/8 inch
- (see picture below–you can do this yourself or ask your butcher to do it)
- 1 slice stale wheat bread with kalamata olives and rosemary (about 1 ounce)
- (we make ours from scratch and always have some in the freezer. You can use plain wheat bread and add 2 chopped, pitted olives + 1/8 teaspoon well-crushed, dried rosemary)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 piece of thick-sliced bacon, chopped and cooked
- 1/4 cup shredded romano cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons of beaten egg
- (save the leftover egg to stir into a nice hot chicken broth, seasoned with Italian herbs, to make a quick Stracciatella soup)
- 2 slices whole milk mozzarella (scant one ounce, each), cut into 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ sticks (see photo below).
- 1/4 cup red wine (use whatever you’ll be drinking with the meal)
- Also–your favorite red sauce and pasta, additional grated cheese optional
- Dice the bread into 1/4″ squares.
- In a small bowl, cover with milk and stir to moisten. Let soak for 20 minutes to soften the bread.
- Add the romano, parsley and egg. Stir to combine.
- Spread 1/2 of the stuffing mix on each of the pounded steaks, leaving a 1-inch border of steak all around (see photo).
- Spread a layer of mozzarella over each.
- Fold the sides in as pictured.
- Roll and secure with toothpicks.
- In a small dutch oven, sear the rolls on all sides in a small amount of whatever hot fat you choose. (I used 1 tablespoon of olive oil, + 1 teaspoon of bacon fat). The pictures will show you how to employ a handy, inexpensive kitchen tong to hold the meat in place. Searing takes approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the kettle from the heat and remove the meat to a dish. Use the tong and a paper towel to swab out the extra fat, but be sure to leave the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. If any cheese has leaked out and burned to the pan, remove it so your sauce won’t taste like blackened toast.
- Return the kettle to the heat and deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits.
- Add your favorite red sauce. If yours is jarred, you’ll want to add some water to thin it out, so it won’t cook down into paste.
- Return the meat to the kettle, turning so they’re nicely coated with sauce.
- Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to the lowest-low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Turn the bundles over, cover again and simmer for another 20 minutes. During this last simmer, you’ll want to boil up a pot of your favorite pasta.
- Serve with a green salad and red wine and savor slowly with conversation.