A rustic Southern Italy comfort food with three of my favorite features: It’s easy; you have a lot of time to hang out 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.
- The Meats!
- Beef top round
- 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
- 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 1⁄4 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 1⁄8 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!