Growing up in a family with Italian immigrant roots meant that gathering around the table for a big meal was a pretty regular occurrence. Whether it was my dad’s famous lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, or any other number of Italian dishes, preparing for this family gathering meant the whole house would first be filled with the intoxicating smell of Sunday tomato sauce or “gravy” that simmered away on the stove for hours and hours.
I remember sneaking into the kitchen throughout the day, where I would tear off a little piece of bread and dunk it into the large pot of warm sauce. It was my way of testing the sauce’s progress, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think I was the only one in the house who did this. I think we all found ourselves wandering in and out of the kitchen; it was just too hard to resist.
One of my favorites from these family dinner gatherings is Braciole (pronounced bra’zhul). You might even call it a roulade, or involtini, depending on where you are from. Braciole is a southern Italian dish, with many variations, based upon the family that is cooking. For most, flank steak is pounded thin, stuffed with a pesto like filling, rolled, tied and simmered in sauce until fall apart tender.
I have enjoyed braciole made a million different ways, but always seem come back to the way my family makes it. Maybe because of the flavor, but maybe too, because of the familiarity and comfort it brings.
I love to serve this entree as part of a family style Italian themed dinner party with friends.
I find it’s casual entertaining like this, that conjeur ups old family memories and laughter around the table. It’s also a great way to discover new recipes, especially if you have your guests share in the food prep, bringing with them a favorite dish from their family cookbooks.
If you take advantage of the make-ahead steps in this recipe, and prepare the Braciole 1 day ahead, you will simply need to reheat before serving, ensuring you will be free to relax and have fun with your friends!
Have a look~
You will begin by preparing the sauce (see recipe below).
Next, you will make a pesto filling
Pound flank steak thin, then spread with the pesto filling
Braciole with Meat Sauce
Serve the Braciole with a side of polenta, pasta, or potatoes.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 country style bone-in pork ribs
2 (28-ounce) cans diced plum tomatoes
½ cup fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pork ribs, sprinkle with salt, and brown on both sides. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, and basil to a blender. Pulse to puree. Add pureed tomato mixture to pork. Simmer 2 hours, covered. Remove pork ribs from sauce. Shred the pork, discarding the bones. Mix shredded pork into sauce.
3 pounds ½-inch-thick flank steak
1 cup Romano cheese
¼ cup minced garlic
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pound flank steak with mallet or heavy pan to ¼-inch-thickness. Trim off any fat. Season with salt and pepper.
In a food processor, pulse the cheese, garlic, raisins, pine nuts, and parsley to form a coarse paste. Spread paste evenly over flank steak. Starting at one long end, roll meat up jelly roll style and tie with butcher’s twine in 2-inch intervals to secure. Slice into 3-inch-thick slices.
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add braciole slice to oil and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Add meat sauce to pan, cover, and simmer over very low heat for 3 hours.