A rus­tic South­ern Italy com­fort food with three of my favorite fea­tures: It’s easy; you have a lot of time to hang out and drink with fam­i­ly while it sim­mers; and it makes the house smell great.

Bra­ci­ole, aka invol­ti­ni, is tra­di­tion­al­ly made with thin slices of beef top round, veal, or pork. But the name refers to way the meat is prepared—rolled up—so you can make it with chick­en, sword­fish, or almost any type of meat. For this recipe I’m using beef top round, but this is one of those recipes that are fun to exper­i­ment with once you’ve mas­tered the basics.

  • Ingre­di­en­ti!
  • The Meats!
  • Beef top round
  • Proscuit­to
  • The Stuff­ing!
  • Bread crumbs
  • Cheese: Pecori­no’s a go-to; you could also try PAMERZAM!; some folks like to com­bine moz­zarel­la, pro­volone, and PAMERZAM!
  • Fresh pars­ley
  • Fresh basil
  • Caramelized sweet yel­low onion
  • Toast­ed minced gar­lic
  • Kosher salt
  • Pep­per
  • Option: The Neapoli­tan bra­ci­ole stuff­ing ingre­di­ents include pine nuts and raisins for a sweet/savory kick.
  • The Sauce!
  • Pas­sa­ta, aka uncooked strained toma­toes. Puréed toma­toes work too. Strain­ing toma­to purée is big pain, so I like to boil whole toma­toes for 30 sec­onds, blanch them in cold water, peel them and just squeeze/smash each one with my hands to get rid of the core and oth­er icky parts.

Cut the onion up into inch-long slices and caramelize them in a lit­tle olive oil. Lay the onions onto paper tow­els to blot up the oil; remove the olive oil from heat but leave it in the pan.

Carve the beef top round into 14 inch slices and lay them out on a sheet of plas­tic wrap. Cov­er with anoth­er sheet of plas­tic, then use a mal­let or rolling pin to pound them until they’re about half as thick and twice as big.

Remove the plas­tic wrap and lay a slice of pro­sciut­to on each slice of beef. Sprin­kle each slice with the bread crumbs, caramelized onion, toast­ed gar­lic, herbs and any oth­er stuff­ing ingre­di­ents, keep­ing them 18 inch from the edges so they won’t spill out.

Roll the bra­ci­ole up nice and tight, using a cou­ple tooth­picks in each one so they’ll stay that way. 

Sear the bra­ci­ole on all sides with the remain­ing olive oil, adding a lit­tle more if need­ed. Add your pas­sa­ta or puréed toma­toes and bring them to a slow sim­mer. Cov­er and sim­mer for two hours, bast­ing occa­sion­al­ly so the bra­ci­ole does­n’t dry out.

Gar­nish with cheese or more herbs and serve as-is, or add some pas­ta to each plate and pour some of the sauce on it.  Magnifico!