Tag Archives: Italian

Beef Braciole with Meat Sauce Recipe

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

Roll up jelly-roll style, tie with butcher’s twine, then slice into 3-inch-thick slices

Brown the little bundles on both sides

Into the pot with sauce they go, and simmer away until melt in your mouth tender

Braciole with Meat Sauce

Serve the Braciole with a side of polenta, pasta, or potatoes.

Meat sauce:

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

Butcher’s twine

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.

8 servings


Porchetta, Bean, and Kale Stew

A few days ago, I shared my recipe for Porchetta with you.

Today I have a delicious stew recipe for you, which uses some of the leftover pork you may have. The Porchetta is packed with flavor, giving your stew a head start right off the bat. With just a little bit of chopping and simmering, you will have a whole new dish to enjoy. If you are looking for other leftover ideas, try making a Panini sandwich with Porchetta, roasted red peppers, and cheddar cheese; a fantastic combination.

Porchetta, Bean, and Kale Stew

Save your Parmesan cheese rinds! I like to add them to soups and stews. They add a a lot of flavor to the dish during simmer time.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup  peeled carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup chopped celery

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 large bunch kale, stems trimmed, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes, chopped

2 (14.5 ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed, drained

1 (3-inch piece) Parmesan cheese rind

3 cups shredded Porchetta

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add Kale, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until kale begins to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Ladle into bowls

4-6 servings


Slow Roasted Fennel Porchetta Recipe

The other day the UPS man brought us a treat.

Our good friend Gary, from Northern California has been into wine making with his brother, and he was nice enough to send us a few bottles of their latest creation to sample. So when the  weatherman predicted yet another winter snow storm, I thought it was time to make some slow roasted pork to go with the Cabernet Sauvignon aptly named “Pig Farm”

Porchetta, pronounced  por’ket:a, is a Italian dish, traditionally made by cooking a whole pig, stuffed with herbs and onions over a wood fire.

I decided to  take a more modern day approach to this recipe, opting to stuff a boneless pork shoulder in a very low  oven (275 degrees) for 10 hours, until the Porchetta surrendered into  a state of moist, fall apart tender deliciousness. ( Think Italian barbecue, infused with fresh herbs and a crisp salty crust.)

On a day when we were at home, not going anywhere with a blizzard underway outside, the fragrance of all that slow roasting goodness was aromatherapy; a reminder of what was coming.

This porchetta makes a fantastic entree for a casual winter dinner party. Pork shoulder is an economical cut of meat, and when prepared in this way, it becomes something wonderful without a lot of fuss.  A dinner like this is something that should be shared with friends; which is exactly what we did.

I served the Porchetta with Risotto and Broccholi Rabe,  flavors that worked really well with the pork. We sipped the Ferme de Cochon and enjoyed our cozy rustic supper at home, forgetting about all of the snow we would be shoveling in the morning!

I highly recommend you give this one a try.

Here’s a look at the steps to making Porchetta:

Cook the onions and basil in olive oil, just long enough to let them sweat, about 10 minutes

Rub both sides of the buterflied pork shoulder with the ground fennel spice mixture.

Spread the onion/basil mixture evenly over the pork.

Top with parsley and mint.

Roll it up, tie it with butcher’s twine, pop it in the oven and say “night, night”.

Slow Roasted Fennel Porchetta

Ask your butcher to debone and butterfly the pork shoulder for you to save a step.

1 5-6 pound boneless pork shoulder, butterflied so that you have a rectangle of even thickness

Spice rub:

1.5 ounces fennel seeds, ground

1.25 ounces ground coriander

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

Mix all spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl.


1/2 cup olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced sweet onions, such as Vidalia (from about 2 large onions)

4 cups fresh basil leaves

1 large bunch parsley, stems trimmed

1 cup fresh mint leaves

Butcher’s twine

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and add onions and basil, cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until just softened. Cool slightly before continuing.

Meanwhile, spread the spice rub on both sides of buterflied pork shoulder. Spread filling over pork. Top with parsley and mint.

Starting at one short end of the pork shoulder, carefully roll the pork and stuffing into a log, tucking in any filling that escapes. Finish seam side down. Using Butcher’s twine, tie the roast in 2-inch increments to secure roast.

Place some carrots and celery in a roasting pan (acting as a roasting tray) and the porchetta on top of that.

Roast the porchetta in a 275 degree oven for 10 hours. Let rest 10 minutes. Break apart with a couple of forks; the meat will fall apart  before your eyes. Serve with risotto and bitter greens, such as broccholi rabe.

8-10 entree servings

Wondering what to do with any leftover Porchetta?

Stay tuned for my next post: Porchetta Bean Stew