Braciole

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This cozy dish of rolled meat stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese and cooked in tomato sauce is a staple at Italian family gatherings.

Braciole
Photo:

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs 5 mins
Servings:
6

Braciole is an Italian-style roulade, a rolled and stuffed meat. It is also called involtini, or bruciuluni in Sicilian. The etymology of the word translates to slice of meat rolled over coals. The meat — typically beef, veal, or pork — is pounded thin and stuffed with prosciutto, breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs. It can be grilled, pan-fried, or braised in sauce. Since this dish has its roots in Italian cuisine, you’ll find braciola at family dinners throughout the Italian diaspora.

How to Cook Braciole

This recipe takes a bit of time to make, but the results are satisfying and well worth it. This braciole is a perfect dish for a weekend project, Sunday dinner, or when you’re looking to make an impressive dish for guests. Start by making a delicious, bright, and balanced tomato sauce with canned San Marzano tomatoes, a whole onion, and thyme. We suggest deepening the savory flavor of the sauce with the addition of a Parmesan rind. The sauce can be made in advance to help save time.

To make the braciole, you’ll need flank steak that has been butterflied and pounded until it is 1/4-inch thick for the base of the braciole. First, layer the steak with prosciutto, then top it with the toasted panko (toasting the breadcrumbs first means they will absorb the flavor of the roll and sauce). You’ll keep building layers and flavor with pine nuts, a generous amount of minced garlic, fresh parsley, and two types of cheese. It’s important to roll the meat against the grain for the most tender slices after it cooks. Secure the roll with twine or toothpicks.

Sear the roll in a braiser or Dutch oven until browned all over, then braise it in the tomato sauce until fork-tender. Slice the roll into medallions to reveal the beautifully layered center. It’s an impressive dish to serve at a gathering. Save any leftovers and eat them in a sandwich.

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 10 medium garlic cloves, peeled

  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus small basil leaves for garnish 

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1 medium (10 ounces) yellow onion, peeled and halved lengthwise with root end intact

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes, hand-crushed

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 (3-inch) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Braciole

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 2 (1 1/2 pound each) flank steaks, butterflied and pounded 1/4-inch thick

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, divided

  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto  (about 8 slices)

  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

  • 2 1/4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

  • 2 1/4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely shredded (about 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Bring garlic, basil, oil, and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low; cook until basil wilts but remains green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside, and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

  2. Transfer garlic mixture to a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender; process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, cut side down; cook, undisturbed, until onion starts to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and water (add about 1/2 cup water to each crushed tomato can, swishing to loosen any remaining sauce); bring to a simmer over medium-high. Add cheese rind, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 40 minutes. Remove and discard cheese rind and onion. Add reserved garlic mixture and salt to tomato sauce, stirring to combine. (If making in advance, let cool completely, and transfer to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.)

Prepare the Braciole:

  1. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium. Add panko, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and toasted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, and stir in thyme and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Lay steaks flat on a clean work surface or parchment paper. Sprinkle top of each steak with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Divide prosciutto evenly between steaks, overlapping in a single layer across steaks. Sprinkle reserved panko mixture evenly over steaks; sprinkle evenly with pine nuts, parsley, garlic, and 1/2 cup each of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino Romano. Roll up each steak over filling, rolling against the grain of steak; cut in half crosswise. Using skewers or kitchen twine, secure rolled steaks. Sprinkle each steak with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

  3. Heat oil in a large high-sided, heatproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high. Add steaks, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer steaks from skillet to a large plate. Wipe skillet clean. Add reserved tomato sauce to skillet, and nestle steaks into sauce, spooning some of sauce over steaks.

  4. Cover and bake in preheated oven until steak is very tender, 1 hour, 30 minutes to 2 hours, turning steaks halfway through baking time. Transfer steaks to a large cutting board, and let cool for 10 minutes. Spoon some of sauce in skillet onto a platter. Cut steaks evenly into medallions, and arrange over sauce. Spoon additional sauce over steaks, and garnish with basil, parsley, and remaining 1 tablespoon each Parmigiano-reggiano and pecorino Romano. Serve immediately with any remaining sauce on the side.

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