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Braciole: A Delicious Italian Stuffed Beef Rolls Recipe

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Braciole, pronounced as “brah-ZHOO-lay,” is a classic Italian dish that features thinly sliced beef rolls stuffed with a savory filling, braised in tomato sauce until tender and flavorful. Hailing from Southern Italy, particularly regions like Campania and Sicily, Braciole (singular: Braciola) is a dish that reflects the rustic and hearty flavors of Italian cuisine. Let’s explore the history, ingredients, preparation, and cultural significance of Braciole, and learn how to make this traditional dish step-by-step.

Origins and History

Braciole has its roots in traditional Italian cooking, where it originated as a way to tenderize and flavor tough cuts of meat through slow cooking. The name “Braciole” is derived from the Italian word “braciola,” which refers to a thin slice or cut of meat. Over time, the dish evolved into a beloved recipe featuring thinly pounded beef slices stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and sometimes cured meats. Braciole is often served as a festive dish during holidays and family gatherings, showcasing the richness and depth of Italian culinary traditions.

Ingredients

For the Braciole:

  • 4 slices of beef round or flank steak, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 slices of prosciutto or pancetta (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 4 slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese (optional)

For Braising:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Beef Slices:
    • Lay the beef slices flat on a cutting board. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare the Filling:
    • In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and optionally pine nuts or chopped nuts. Mix well.
  3. Assemble the Braciole:
    • Place a slice of prosciutto or pancetta (if using) on top of each beef slice.
    • Spread a layer of the breadcrumb mixture evenly over each beef slice.
    • Place a slice of provolone or mozzarella cheese (if using) on top of the breadcrumb mixture.
  4. Roll and Secure:
    • Starting from one end, roll up each beef slice tightly into a cylinder, enclosing the filling. Secure the rolls with kitchen twine or toothpicks to hold them together.
  5. Sear the Braciole:
    • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the braciole on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side, until evenly browned. Remove and set aside.
  6. Prepare the Sauce:
    • In the same skillet or Dutch oven, add chopped onion and minced garlic. Saut√© until softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
    • Deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  7. Braise the Braciole:
    • Stir in crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Return the braciole rolls to the skillet, nestling them into the sauce. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer and Serve:
    • Cover and simmer over low heat for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beef is tender and the flavors have melded together.
    • Remove the braciole from the skillet and discard kitchen twine or toothpicks.
    • Slice the braciole into rounds and serve hot, spooning the sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped fresh basil leaves.

Tips for Perfect Braciole

  • Choosing Beef: Use thinly sliced beef round or flank steak for tender results. Pound the slices slightly to ensure even thickness.
  • Filling Variations: Feel free to customize the filling with your favorite ingredients like different cheeses, herbs, or even cured meats.
  • Braising Time: Braising time may vary depending on the thickness of the beef slices. The braciole should be tender and easily pierced with a fork when done.

Cultural Significance

Braciole is a dish that embodies the warmth and hospitality of Italian cooking, often served as a centerpiece during festive occasions and family gatherings. It showcases the Italian tradition of using simple, wholesome ingredients to create flavorful and comforting meals that bring people together. In Italy, Braciole variations can be found across different regions, each adding its own unique twist to the classic recipe.

Conclusion

Braciole is a timeless Italian dish that promises to impress with its tender beef rolls, savory filling, and rich tomato sauce. Whether enjoyed as a main course for a special dinner or a cozy family meal, Braciole captures the essence of Italian culinary heritage with every delicious bite. Prepare this dish at home to savor the flavors of Italy and share its comforting appeal with loved ones, making memories around the table that are as rich as the dish itself.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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