A few years ago we were on a vacation in Puglia, in Southern Italy, and were introduced to “Braciola di manzo” which was meat that was flattened and then rolled around a filling. It was delicious, so I was very excited the following year to find it on the menu when we were in the Northern Italian Lombard region almost to the Swiss border. But, when the dish came it looked nothing like the roll we had had in Puglia. Disappointed, I remarked this to the waiter who stood up very straight and told me in no uncertain terms that Braciole (plural for braciola) were done in this way and what I was describing, thank you very much was “Involtini” which was absolutely NEVER done in Northern Italy.
Further research on my part confirmed the waiter’s tale. The term “braciola” describes a method of cooking which derives from the Italian word for coals, “brace” and in Northern Italy it means the method of cooking meat which we would probably call “braising”while and in Southern Italy braciola refers to meat which is flattened and rolled around a filling. End of story!
- 1 large flank steak
- ¼ lb prosciutto
- ¼ lb provolone
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 clove garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seed, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 or 4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- orecchiette or bow tie pasta
- Parmesan cheese
- Put the flank steak on 2 overlapping sheets of plastic wrap 2 feet long. With a short side of steak nearest you, holding a sharp knife parallel to work surface and beginning on a long side, butterfly the steak by cutting it almost in half horizontally then open it like a book.
- Turn steak so a long side is nearest you, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lay the prosciutto slices on top and then the cheese slices.
- Leaving a 1” blank space on the meat, sprinkle evenly with pine nuts, raisins, and garlic.
- Beginning with the side further from you, roll the meat towards you and tie up with string, tucking in the sides.
- In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the beef roll and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides.
- Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes longer.
- Pour in the wine, the tomatoes, the parsley and basil.
- Cover and reduce heat and cook until tender, about 2 hours, until the meat is tender. Alternately, place in a 350 degree oven. (Check periodically to turning the meat roll and making sure the sauce does not dry out. Add water if necessary.)
- Remove the braciola to a serving platter and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes so it will be easier to cut into slices.
Serve over orecchiette or bow tie pasta.
To read a related recipe, click here: Lisa’s Braciola (chefboyrlis.wordpress.com)