Braciole (pronounced Brajole) is my definition of Italian comfort food. This dish is not difficult to put together, but is a bit time consuming. It falls into my ‘do-ahead’ category which makes it perfect to prepare for a dinner party.
Two .75 lb. flank steaks-flattened to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness
Minced garlic, 4 cloves
Chopped fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp.
1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
1 cup Parmesan, grated
6 silces sharp Provolone
1/3 cup pistachio nuts, coarsley chopped
2 tbsp. capers
6 thin slices Proscuitto
4 cups fresh baby spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp. to make a paste with stuffing ingredients
2 lb. crushed plum tomatoes (two 1 lb. cans)
8 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
Bouquet garni*–basil, parsley, oregano
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Heat oil in a large pan or heavy skillet, toss in garlic and cook gently for a couple minutes. Do not brown the garlic. Add the 2 cans of plum tomatoes, bouquet garni, cover and let cook for about 2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt/pepper. This will make more sauce than you need, but is great left over!
* A bouquet garni is simply a bunch of fresh herbs either tied together or tied into a piece of cheesecloth. Imparts great flavor!
Open your flank steaks and place between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a rolling pin, meat pounder, frying pan or any heavy object until the steaks are about 1/2 to 3/4 inch even thickness.
In a bowl mix together the black pepper (I did not use any salt inside as there are quite a few salty ingredients already!), garlic, parsley, basil, pistachios (I have never used pistachios before in braciole, but couldn’t find pine nuts. The pistachios were fantastic!), capers, Parmesan cheese. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to this mixture to bind the ingredients. Place 3 slices of sharp Provolone on the inside of each steak.
Next, spread the mixture evenly then add 3 slices each of proscuitto and finish with a couple cups of fresh baby spinach in each steak. Put as much spinach as you can fit into your steak as it cooks down to almost nothing. Here’s the only tricky part…rolling and tying. (If you go to the top left of this blog and put Boneless Leg of Lamb into the SEARCH FOR RECIPES box, you will be directed to a ‘how-to’ video I made last year for stuffing and rolling boneless leg of lamb. The technique is exactly the same. Or, even easier, click on this link: Cook with Cindy – Food, Fun, and more!: Boneless Leg Of Lamb!)
Starting from the long edge gently roll the steak stuffing the ingredients in as you go. Tie the steaks every couple of inches with kitchen string. I did sprinkle a little salt on the outside of the rolls. At this point you can cover and refrigerate until ready to brown. If you do refrigerate, take steaks out of the fridge for a half hour before browning. To brown: heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Place the steak rolls into the hot oil and brown on all sides.
In the same pan, cover the rolls generously with your homemade red sauce. Cover the pan and braise on low heat (just so the sauce bubbles gently) for 2 1/2 hours or more. The longer the meat braises, the more tender it will be. When ready to serve, take the steaks out of the red sauce and let sit for about 10 minutes. Remove the kitchen string and cut the steak into thick slices. Spoon sauce over the slices and serve with lots of extra sauce on the side. I served our Braciole with ziti’s with fresh garlic, basil, and Parmesan cheese. The sauce is good on everything!
Enjoy with a glass of your favorite red wine, crusty
Italian bread, a little green salad.
Life is so delicious!
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