Saturday, June 22, 2013

Braciole - Tour of Roman Food

Ready to continue on our tour of Roman food?
Me too!

The other day I took an excellent class at Williams-Sonoma where we are touring Italy.  First stop was Rome.  We had a feast, I tell you.  I felt like an Italian mama cooking in a rustic kitchen for an large family gathering.  It was wonderful!  The class was hands-on so we really made our own meals.  This is such a great way to learn as you go.  So make sure to check out the schedule of classes for your local Willimas-Sonoma to see if they offer these wonderful classes.

Several days ago I brought you an excellent pasta, Bucatini all' Amatriciana.  Wow! that is some tasty pasta.  Today we are exploring another secondi, or main dish which is Braciole.  Pronounced (bra zhul).  Braciole are rolled slices of beef or veal that are filled with a savory stuffing and slowly simmered in a tasty tomato sauce.  Usually using a less than tender cut of meat that turns out fork tender when it's done.   

We used skirt steak as our meat, however flank, or top round would be a good choice as well.  I will tell you this dish is a little more involved with the preparation of the meat.  You add the stuffing and roll it all up, followed by tieing the meat to hold the stuffing in.  Once that is done you are almost there.  A little browning and sauteing and then adding the ingredients for the sauce and the rest is done with little attention from you.  The meat will braise in this wonderful sauce and become succulent and tender! Oh my, I'm getting hungry thinking about it. 

We ate this with a side of our Bucatini all' Amatriciana.  The meal was perfect, the beef was tender and full of flavor.  The filling...heaven.  You have to try this.  It's well worth the effort.


serves 4

1 lb. skirt steak, top round, or flank steak, cut across the width into 4 slices
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
4 slices prosciutto 
4-8 slices of provolone cheese 
2 Tbs. pine nuts 
2 Tbs. raisins 
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 yellow onion, chopped 
1 cup dry red wine such as Barolo 
1 cup beef broth 
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 can (15 oz.) chopped plum tomatoes with juices
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces 

One at a time, place the beef slices between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently with a meat pounder until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the pounded slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay prosciutto and cheese on each beef slice. Sprinkle the slices evenly with the pine nuts, raisins and garlic. Roll up the slices, tucking in the ends, then tie the rolls at 1-inch intervals with kitchen string.

In a chef pan or dutch oven, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the beef rolls and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes longer. Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, turning the rolls occasionally, until the beef is tender when pierced with a knife,  about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Check from time to time to see if the sauce is becoming too dry and add water if needed.

Uncover, scatter the parsley and basil evenly over the rolls, and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the rolls to a cutting board and cut into thick slices, removing and discarding the kitchen string. Transfer the slices to warmed plates, spoon the sauce over the top and serve immediately. 

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).

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