It’s summer and it’s time to grill!! In Italy, grilling in the summer is just as popular as here in the U.S.A. While grilling chops and sausages are standard fare, you can create something really interesting by grilling rolled beef with different stuffings.
But first, let’s get our “lingua” straight!! “Braciol” is not an Italian word; it’s an Italian-American slang catch all for all rolled things especially when long cooked in sauce. I cringe every time I hear it (or worse MOZZ or MUZZ for mozzarella cheese – mamma mia!).
My Italian tutor, Carlo Carere, set me straight on these terms. Braciola (one) or braciole (several) means “alla brace” or on the grill. Involtini are all rolled things and frequently made of inexpensive cuts of meat like chuck and they’re braised in tomato sauce with other meats for “Sunday Supper”. If you use a high quality meat like top sirloin, you can grill a “braciola” quickly on a summer grill, slice and serve a presto!
There’s no set recipe for a grilled beef roll. You can be inventive and create something new every time. You could include prosciutto, loose sausage, different herbs and different fruit.
This recipe is straight down the middle with a nod to Sicily because of the addition of golden raisins and pine nuts. I made a similar recipe using pork and orange several years ago. Prepare it several hours in advance and grill just before eating. Slice into nice portions and serve family style with some cold summer salads.
As with many Italian recipes, the key is to have a good butcher. I religiously buy our meats from Huntington Meats at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles (@huntington_meats). Jon, the head butcher, expertly prepared the braciola meat using top sirloin beef, butterflied and pounded. Estimate about 1 pound of meat for each roll. Two rolls thickly sliced will serve about 6 to 8 people with sides at a family style Sunday afternoon pranzo!Print
- 2 pieces of beef top sirloin, 1 pound each, butterflied and pounded flat by your butcher
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or a combination of both
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped oregano (optional)
- 2 tbsp chopped mint (optional)
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves – finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Prepare the stuffing:
- Soak the golden raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes and then drain and squeeze the water out. Place in a large bowl.
- Using a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, toast the panko breadcrumbs. Do not use any oil. Just swirl the breadcrumbs around and stir with a wooden spoon. Keep a careful eye because they can burn in seconds. When done, immediately remove to the same bowl as the raisins.
- If the pine nuts are not yet toasted, toast using the same process as the breadcrumbs. The pine nuts contain oils so be even more diligent that they don’t burn. Remove immediately to the large bowl.
- Let the items in the bowl cool and then add the cheeses, parsley, other herbs and chopped garlic.
- Using clean hands, incorporate 1 tbsp of olive oil into the mixture and mix with your hands. Add enough oil so the filling comes together but is not yet a paste.
- Taste the filling and add salt and pepper to taste. You will also be salting the inside of the meat so don’t overdo it.
Prepare the roll:
- Lay out the meat prepared by your butcher on a cutting board. Smooth out any thick spots with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
- Liberally season the meat’s surface with salt and pepper.
- Spread out the prepared stuffing on the beef. Keep it about 1-inch back from the edges.
- Now, using a friend to help, roll up the beef roll. Start by rolling it up length-wise. If that doesn’t work because of the dimensions, start again and roll the other way.
- Tie the roll at regular intervals with butcher twine.
- Prepare a hot grill. The grilling surface should be very hot!
- Liberally salt and pepper the beef roll all over the exterior.
- Drizzle olive oil on some folded paper towels. Using long tongs, coat the area of the grill you intend to use with the olive oil.
- Grill the beef roll turning about every 10 minutes to get a nicely browned exterior. Cook until the center of the roll reads 125ºF when measured with the meat thermometer. As the meat rests, it will rise to about 135ºF.
- Remove to a pan, sprinkle with salt and cover with aluminum foil for 10 mins.
- Remove the butcher twine with scissors, thickly slice and serve.
- Meat mallet or rolling pin
- Kitchen twine and a friend to help you tie the rolls up
- Digital meat thermometer
- Meat mallet or rolling pin