My Italian family always sat down for the classic Italian Sunday supper. We would wake to the smell of meatballs frying or tomato sauce warming on the stove. But we were never allowed to taste the sauce or meatballs before 11 AM church – a silly Catholic rule about not eating before mass. So we walked around the house in our Sunday best, drooling from the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen. Occasionally, Mom made braciole, little Italian beef rolls stuffed with delicious yummy ingredients like pine nuts, raisins, cheese, parsley. They would simmer for hours and were mouthwateringly tender by the time we returned from church. We would dart into the house anxious to sit down to Sunday ‘dinner’ which was always served around 1 or 2 PM after church. Those precious hours between church and Sunday dinner were the only time my brother and I did not raise hell for my Mom – amazing that she didn’t wait until hours later to serve dinner. It would have kept the peace a lot longer :o. Occasionally, I add braciole to my sauce pot and smile with warm memories of helping my Mom roll the braciole. With Thanksgiving just behind us and thoughts of family, thoughts of Sunday supper left me craving a long-simmering tender braciola – a meal to warm both my heart and my house. You can make braciole as small rolls or as a single large piece of steak. I opted for a single braciola today. And mission accomplished – as I type this, my house smells of the wonderful Sunday aromas with which I grew up – a fitting meal to end the long Thanksgiving weekend. Happy Thanksgiving and buon appetito!
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated provolone
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil (or more), divided
1 piece of flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds, pounded to 1/8 inch thickness
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
About 1/4 cup basil, chopped
Additional parsley, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mix together the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. If too dry, add a bit more oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Lay out the flank steak. Be sure the steak is pounded to 1/8 inch thickness. If still too thick, pound away. Place the filling over the steak covering evenly. Starting a the shorter end, roll up the flank steak into a tight cylinder. Tie the roll with butcher’s twine or toothpicks (twine works better).
4. Heat a large ovenproof skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add in the braciola and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Carefully remove the braciola to a plate. Add the onion to the pot and cook until tenter, about 5 minutes. Add in the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add in the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to incorporate all the ingredients. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add the braciola to the pot. Cover with lid or foil and place in the oven. Bake, turning the braciole every 30 minutes or so and basting with the tomato sauce. Uncover about 1 hour into baking. Bake until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a bit more wine or water to the sauce if needed as it cooks.
6. Remove the braciola from the sauce and let rest. Remove the butcher twine or toothpicks. Slice the braciola into 1 inch thick slices. Transfer to a warmed platter. Spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with the basil and parsley.
7. Serve – buon appetito!