In Sicilian cuisine, Italian-American cuisine and Italian Australian cuisine, braciola or the plural braciole (the word is commonly pronounced /bra’zhul/ from the Sicilian language) is the name given to thin slices of meat (typically pork, chicken, beef, or swordfish) that are rolled as a roulade (this category of rolled food is known as involtini in Italian) with cheese and bread crumbs and fried. In Sicilian, this dish is also called bruciuluni.
Braciole can be cooked along with meatballs and Italian sausage in a Neapolitan ragù or tomato sauce, which some call sarsa or succu (Sicilian), or ‘Sunday gravy’ in some areas of the northeastern United States.
They can also be prepared without tomato sauce.
There exist many variations on the recipe, including variations of cheese and the addition of vegetables, such as eggplant.
Braciole are not exclusively eaten as a main dish, but also as a side dish at dinner, or in a sandwich at lunch.
- Yield: 8 servings
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook time: varies, about 2 to 3 hours
For The Braciole
- 1 round steak – 1 to 2 pounds
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup pecorino romano
- 1/2 bunch parsley – picked and chopped
- kosher salt to taste
- cracked pepper to taste
- 4 cloves garlic – minced
- 4 eggs – hard boiled, peeled
For The Sauce
- 3 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 6-ounce can double concentrated tomato paste
- Extra virgin olive oil to coat the pot
- 1 large red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 to 12 sprigs flat leaf parsley, picked and chopped
- 2 small bunches sweet basil, picked and chopped
- Red wine to deglaze
To Make The Braciole
- Lay out round steak on a cutting board and pound it out to 1/4 inch thickness, see notes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, pecorino, parsley, and garlic.
- Arrange the eggs end to end across the bottom section of the steak. See Notes.
- Starting from the bottom end roll the steak up into a “jelly” roll. Tie it with butchers twine.
For The Sauce
- Puree 2 of the cans of tomatoes and the can of tomato paste in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
- Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a 12-quart stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and sweat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the basil and parsley and cook another minute, or so.
- Add the tomato puree, along with 12 ounces water and stir well. Using your hands crush the remaining can of tomatoes by picking up one tomato at a time, wrapping your fist around it, and squeezing it through your fingers, into the sauce. When you’re finished with the tomatoes pour the remaining juice from the can into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a full boil, reduce heat, and allow it to simmer uncovered while you brown the braciole.
Putting It All Together
- In a 12-inch saute pan, over medium heat, brown the braciole in EVO until the outside is lightly caramelized all the way around.
- Transfer the braciole to the pot with the sauce. Deglaze the pan you used, to brown the braciole, with the red wine. After adding the wine use a spatula to scrape any stuck bits on the bottom. Add the wine and scrapings to the sauce and stir gently to mix it into the sauce.
- Braise the braciole in the sauce until cooked through and tender. About 2 to 3 hours over a very low flame.
- At this point you can remove the braciole and cut the twine off. Be aware that if you do the meat is going to fall apart. However, it still tastes amazing. If you decide to do this put your pasta on to boil. Time yourself so that as the pasta is finished you are ready to serve the meat. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve with some of the meat on top. See notes.
- Serve over pasta tossed with the sauce.
- To pound out meat you don’t need to beat the hell out of it with the rough side of a meat mallet. You pound it with some force but you shouldn’t be trying to drive the mallet through the meat.
- Sandwiching the meat between sheets of plastic film will help prevent little flecks of meat from flying all over you and your kitchen.
- While this recipe calls for Pecorino Romano cheese, this recipe works very well with Parmigiano Reggiano. I’ve made it that way in the past if I didn’t have Pecorino Romano.
- There are two ways to deal with the eggs. You can leave them whole and roll the steak up around them, like I did, or you can slice the eggs into 1/4 inch thick rounds. If you slice them, arrange the egg slices over the steak taking care to evenly distribute the slices. If you leave them whole arrange the eggs end to end across the bottom section of the steak.
- If you prefer, you can cook this in a low oven, at 250° F. If you decide to braise in the oven, omit the water and cover tightly with foil. The reason being that the additional water is going to cook off on the stove top. If you braise it in an oven it is covered and the water won’t cook off. Then your sauce will be watery, or you will have to reduce it after you remove the meat.
- You can remove the pot from the heat, cool it down in a water bath, and refrigerate it until the sauce and meat are cold throughout. Then transfer the braciole to a cutting board and remove the twine. Slice the roll into slices and lay out in a single layer in a large casserole pan. Heat the sauce through and ladle some sauce over the slices. Warm in a preheated 325 degree oven until hot through, about 25 minutes. The reason for this step is purely presentation. The braciole holds together better if you slice it cold and then warm it up. Not only that, but like any braise, it tastes better the next day.
- Dried pasta is an interesting product. Honestly, I don’t use commercially available dried pasta. It just doesn’t have the texture and flavor of imported pasta. The reason I don’t make my own dried pasta is that the machine to make it cost about as much as a new car. You can find imported dried pasta for about 5.00 dollars a pound in the more upscale grocery stores.
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