Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Braciola and Tomato Sauce




From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The French may have pot-au-feu but when it comes to great steaming casseroles, Sicilian Sunday gravy made with meatballs, sausage and braciola probably has more fans. It is easier to make and certainly less expensive to construct than the boiled supper of the French. That's a good thing, especially when more than 20 people regularly gather for Sunday supper at your table. Mrs. S, a special woman who contributed so much to the richness of my childhood, was the undisputed queen of Sunday gravy and I suspect that in her lifetime she made enough of it to fill a swimming pool. I spent hours in her kitchen and, by osmosis, learned how to make many of the dishes she prepared for her huge extended family. She used no recipes and, because she had no daughters, none of her specialties were ever written down. I had a sense of what went into her Sunday gravy, but the particulars remained her secret. Time has changed the way we eat and I haven't thought of her gravy in years, but I chanced on a recipe for braciola in Saveur magazine and memories came rushing back. Now the Silver Fox and I are good eaters, but a gravy made with meatballs, sausage and braciola was way too much food for the two of us to contemplate, much less eat. Fortunately, the version in the magazine was streamlined and only braciola was used to flavor the sauce. Braciola are roulades of beef that are filled with a stuffing of some type. Years ago they were time consuming to make because the meat had to be thinly sliced and pounded before if could be stuffed. Nowadays, thinly sliced beef is available at the meat counter and the work has been considerably reduced. Once stuffed, the rolls are fried and then placed in sauce for a long slow braise that brings all the flavors together. I like my braciola to be fork tender, so I have made a few changes to the recipe you see below. To allow the rolls to brown without sticking, I dust them with an instant blend before frying. I also braise them in a 250 degree oven for 5 to 6 hours. The slow oven produces a wonderful tomato gravy and delicious roulades. We had these for dinner tonight and I loved the memories that surfaced as we ate them. I've found that good food makes for great company and even better memories. Thank you Rose, for everything. I hope you will give this recipe a try. Here's how the braciola and this version of Sunday gravy are made.

Braciola and Tomato Sauce...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Saveur magazine

Ingredients:
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
12 (6"x 4") slices boneless beef chuck, pounded to 1⁄16" thickness
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instant blend flour (i.e. Wondra)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 tp 1/2 teaspoons red chile flakes
2 (28-oz.) cans whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
1 bay leaf
Cooked spaghetti and garlic bread for serving

Directions:
1) To make filling: Mix together raisins, 4 tablespoons parsley, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic in a bowl; set aside.
2) Place a slice of beef on a work surface perpendicular to you, season with salt and pepper, and place about 1 tablespoon filling on the bottom half. Roll beef up around the filling into a tight cylinder. Secure roll with toothpicks, and repeat with remaining beef and filling.
3) Heat oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef rolls with salt and pepper and lightly dust with instant blend flour. Working in batches, add rolls, and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onion to pot, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook, stirring to scrape bottom of pot, until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in chile flakes, tomatoes, and bay leaf, and then return beef rolls to pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered partially and gently stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked through and tender, about 2 hours.
4) Remove meat rolls from sauce, remove toothpicks, and transfer to center of a serving platter. Continue cooking sauce until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Surround braciola with cooked spaghetti. Pour sauce over meat rolls, and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings.





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19 comments:

Ginny said...

I have heard of this but never actually seen a real dish. They talked about it on "Everyone Loves Raymond." Looks divine.

Life's a shoe said...

oh wow!!!

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

Mary, I would love to take photos of food as nicely as you do!
Duncan In Kuantan

Red Nomad OZ said...

Isn't it strange the older we get, the more we turn to the foods of our youth? Or is that just me?!?!

David said...

Looks great! I just had spaghetti and meatballs, based on my Italian grandma's recipe, so I can appreciate.

Debbie said...

Years ago my grandmother made exactly what you described - meatballs, sausage and braciola. Always delicious. Your pic looks mouthwatering!

Jenn said...

Now this is something I can relate to! My grandma made Sunday gravy and her braciola recipe was even passed down to me! Yours looks perfect, Mary!!

Pam said...

I've always wished that I could have grown up Italian! Big Sunday dinners sound like a fabulous idea to me.

Kim Garceau said...

This is the kind of meal that makes me feel so good!!!!

Anonymous said...

Mary, I am confused, I see garlic listed twice but I see it used once,

Barbara F. said...

This brings back such wonderful childhood memories! Having an Italian mama and grandmama, I know (and make) a good gravy (when made with meat) and sauce (when its meatless). This is an authentic braciole recipe, right down to the raisins and pignolis. xo

Tricia @ saving room for dessert said...

Lovely hearty meal. I made giant meatballs the other day that had pine nuts - can't wait to try your version!

Priya said...

Love to have this beautiful dish for my dinner rite now.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

This dish is totally new to me and one that I have bookmarked for a rainy day. Thanks. Keep well Diane

bellini said...

When I was in the mountain town of Calitri in Italy for a cooking class we made their version of this dish. Veal is just not readily available here so this is a special treat.

Pam said...

This sounds delicious. Few things beat Italian cooking and I really never had it much until I was older. This is a must try!

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Enough Sunday gravy to fill a swimming pool ... that is awesome.

Fondly,
Glenda

David said...

Mary, It's been a long time since I've had Braciola...and that was in a good Italian restaurant in Chicago. It's kind of hard to find on a menu down here in East Tennessee...but maybe I can convince my better have to make it for me as a treat. Thanks and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

France@beyondthepeel said...

I've never heard of Braciola but it's sounds brilliant. I love the raisins and pine nuts!

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