Serves: Makes 4 servings
- 8 ounces sweet Italian sausages, preferably with fennel, casings removed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1⁄2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
- 1⁄2 cup (2 ounces) diced aged provolone cheese
- 1⁄2 cup grated pecorino romano or Asiago cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried currants or dark raisins
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 8 thin slices (1⁄4- to 1⁄3-inch thick) boneless beef top round, flank, or chuck (about 11⁄4 pounds total)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1⁄2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1⁄2 cup full-bodied red wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
Procedures:Braciole is a favorite Italian dish of meat slices pounded flat, spread with a filling, rolled into little bundles, and then slowly braised. For this recipe, you can use beef round, flank, or chuck, but pork cutlets, cut from the leg, will also work. As with so many slow-cooked dishes, the flavors improve if the recipe is made ahead and then reheated just before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, or a small pasta shape, such as orzo. Serve with Creamy Polenta with Two Cheeses (page 57) or Fluffy Yukon Gold Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Green Onions (page 111).
Make the stuffing: In a large bowl, combine the sausage meat, egg, bread crumbs, provolone cheese, pecorino romano cheese, parsley, currants, and garlic, and stir until well blended.
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface and place a slice of beef on top. Place a second piece of plastic wrap on top of the beef. Using a meat pounder, gently but firmly pound the meat, beginning in the center and working your way to the edges, until the meat is an even 1⁄8 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining beef slices. Depending on the weight of the pounder and the thickness of the meat, each slice can take 10 to 20 firm, purposeful whacks to achieve the correct thickness.
Cut 16 pieces of cooking string each 10 inches long, or have ready silicone ties. Sprinkle each meat slice with a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper.
Divide the stuffing into 8 equal portions (each one will be a heaping 1⁄4 cup). Place a portion in the center of a meat slice and spread to within 1⁄2 inch of the edges. Press the stuffing evenly into the meat. Beginning with the narrow end, roll up the meat around the stuffing to make a neat bundle. Using the string or ties, tie each roll crosswise and lengthwise, like a package, securely but not too tightly. Repeat with the remaining meat slices and stuffing.
Heat the braiser over medium heat until hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle on contact, then add the olive oil. Arrange the meat rolls in the pan (they fit best if arranged like wheel spokes) and brown on all 4 sides, turning the rolls with tongs, for about 5 minutes total, or until evenly colored. Using the tongs, transfer the meat to a plate.
Make the sauce: If the pan is dry, add an additional drizzle of oil. Add the onion and carrot, and cook, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until softened. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Using the flat edge of a wooden spoon or a flat whisk, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil the wine for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Remove from the heat.
Set a food mill fitted with the fine disk on the rim of a medium bowl, add the tomatoes with their juices, and puree. Or, puree the tomatoes in a food processor and then press though a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Add the tomatoes and bay leaf to the braiser and bring to a boil. Return the beef rolls to the sauce, turning with the tongs to coat well, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 to 11⁄2 hours, until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork. Turn the rolls occasionally and check to make sure the sauce isn't boiling too hard.
Transfer the rolls to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the sauce over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened.
Snip the strings from the beef rolls and discard, or untie the silicone ties. Cut the rolls on the diagonal into slices 1⁄2 inch thick, and arrange the slices on a warmed deep platter. Remove and discard the bay leaf from the sauce. Spoon the sauce on top of the rolls and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve hot.