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Italian Beef Braciole
The Participant Observer Recipe of the Month is Italian Beef Braciole with Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus.

Braciole
Italian Beef Braciole with Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus

Braciole are stuffed meat rolls from Italy. The name is Sicilian and is pronounced /bra'zhul/ . Braciole are a type of roulade and in northern Italy are sometimes call involtini. There are a number of regional variations and while beef is typically used, stuffed pork rolls are also known. To confuse the traveler, in northern Italy the term braciole refers to a kind of bone-in pork cutlet. They are held together with either toothpicks or kitchen twine. Popular fillings include Parmesian or Romano cheese, herbed bread crumbs, Italian parsley, roasted pinenuts (pinoli), basil and sometimes egg either raw as a binder or quartered for texture and taste. Baraciole, after pan browned, can be cooked in variety of sauces. The sauce below is a simple tomato sauce with dry red wine. It's an easy to make recipe but a bit time-consuming because to get the meat tender it has to be simmered in the red sauce for an hour and a half to two hours. Serve the braciole with the strings attached letting your diners remove them.

INGREDIENTS:

For Braciole:
  • 2 pounds of flank or round steak cut thin
  • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup of Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 4 slices of Parma prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • 1/4 cup of light olive oil (note: other high temp oils can be used, but don't use regular olive oil)
  • cotton cooking twine
For Sauce:
  • 1 large can of crushed Italian tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 cup dry red table wine
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (a dash each (equal parts) of dried Marjoram, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage & Oregano, or use a per-prepared mixture like McCormick s)
For Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus (for two)
  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 6 green onions (scallions)
  • 3 slices prosciutto

PREPARATION:

  1. Braciole can be made either as one very large roll or smaller rolls. Whichever style you decide on the steak needs to be pounded thin(1/4 inch) with a meat tenderizing mallet. This recipe assumes you are making the smaller sized braciole. To avoid making a mess, sandwich the meat between two sheets of plastic wrap before pounding.
  2. Cut the meat into long strips. Creating strips 3 to 4 inches wide and 6 to 7 inches long is ideal, but this will be depend on the size and shape of the meat you are working with. Adjust the size of your cuts so that they are similar in shape and size.
  3. Mix all the other ingredients (except the twine!)in a large bowl and mix thoroughly
  4. Lay out a strip of the beef with one of the short sides facing you
  5. Spoon the mixture (and pat down) on the beef, leaving a 1" space at the end (edge furthest from you)
  6. Roll the beef like you would when making a burrito or sushi roll
  7. To keep the roll intact tie it with two appropriate lengths of kitchen twine
  8. In a skillet (cast iron works best), brown the beef rolls on all sides in the light olive oil.
  9. While the braciole are browning, start the sauce.
  10. In a large flat bottomed pot, on medium heat "sweat" the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Sweating is different than sautéing as the goal is not to brown the ingredients
  11. Add the crushed tomatoes and red wine.
  12. When the braciole are browned on all sides, place them in the sauce so that they are completely submerged
  13. De-glaze the frying pan with the red wine and then pour the wine from the pan into the pot
  14. Bring pot to a low simmer and cover.
  15. Simmer braciole for one and a half to two hours on a low simmer.
  16. Make one pound of your favorite pasta
  17. Serve braciole and sauce over pasta

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Wash and trim ends off the asparagus. Many cooks suggest snapping the asparagus on the theory that they will break precisely at the right point separating the tender part from the tough part. That's probably good general advice, but for this side dish, presentation matters, so cutting is preferred.
  3. Wash the scallions, cut off roots and trim to the same length as the asparagus
  4. Cut Prosciutto pieces in half.
  5. Bundle together 2 asparagus spears and 1 scallion with one half a piece of prosciutto.
  6. Roast in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (time depends on thickness of asparagus)

Recipe by: T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by: Heidi Adams
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