braciole, involtini

Braciole Involtini Recipe

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The Dining Mosaic journey through Italy continues with this amazing recipe for braciole.

At first, I didn’t know what braciole was. I could not even say the word. But after watching countless little old Italian nonnas on Youtube creating this masterpiece, I learned how to enunciate this beautiful word.

It’s pronounced “bra-jul”.

So what do I use? Beef or veal?

You can make this with beef or you can make it with veal. Whatever option you choose, it’s bound to be quite fantastic .

Veal has lower fat content and it is quite a bit more tender. But beef happens to be less expensive and has a more robust and full-bodied taste.

Although some people add a marinara-type sauce (with basil, oregano, or both), I use a basic tomato sauce seasoned with a bit of garlic. Basically, what you are trying to do with these rolls of meat stuffed with goodness is to cook them through but allow them to maintain their structural integrity (which you will do with either twine or toothpicks).

The ultimate flavour comes from the stuffing. Let the stuffing be the star of the show.

Another option is that you can also use the leftover tomato sauce as a base for other sauces. Or, you can simply pour it over pasta. It’s incredibly lovely and I know you will  create an amazing dish for yourself and your guests.



So, the ideal steak to use for this occasion is a rump steak or a skirt steak. Whatever kind of cut of beef you decide to use, just make sure that it is thin and long. You want it to be thin and long so that you can lay the ingredients for the stuffing and have the result of more goodness in your braciole.

Italian (and Pseudo-Italian) culture and cooking

So I always picture Italian or pseudo-Italian movies whenever I am cooking an Italian dish. Like this one, or even something as simple as a pasta with sauce. I think of movies like Goodfellas and The Godfather. Stereotypical, yes, i know, but what can you do when you’re trying to make a dish fit for Italian royalty?

I just love the gregarious nature that comes across when actors put on their best Italian mask. They seem to have this bravado, this gravitas that makes them seem larger than life. And while I don’t doubt that characters like this actually exist in real life, it is indeed extremely amusing to think that they may be acting a bit spurious for comedic effect.

Here’s a pristine example:

Hey, whaddya gonna do, nice college boy, eh? Didn’t want to get mixed up in the Family business, huh? Now you wanna gun down a police captain. Why? Because he slapped ya in the face a little bit? Hah? What do you think this is the Army, where you shoot ’em a mile away? You’ve gotta get up close like this and – bada-BING! – you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C’mere…

Isn’t it hilarious in a certain way? That bravado and swagger could be fit for a sitcom or a serious scene. It is writing in its most classic form – flexible and open to interpretation. While I don’t agree with violence in any way, it is definitely entertaining when viewed artistically such as in the theatre or film.

There is just something about that wit and classification of humour that makes everything so much more interesting than other types of literature and acting.

You may want to put on some Frank Sinatra, put down a nice red checkered tablecloth, perhaps get out the bottle of limoncello and invite over a few people for this amazing dish that you are about to get into the process of making. Be prepared – you’re about to have a great time making a delicious meal.

Anyway, back to braciole.



Braciole, also known as Involtini (meaning “little bundle”) in the mother country (Italy), is typically served as a secondo, or second course.

Ingredients

For the Sauce

2 450g cans crushed tomato
2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

For the Meat

8 sprigs basil
4 250g pieces of  veal or beef, pounded to 14” thickness
2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
4 tbsp Pecorino cheese
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Chopped parsley

Instructions

For the sauce: Put tomatoes, garlic, oil, and 1 cup water into a large saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the meat: Chop leaves from 2 of the sprigs of basil and set aside. Working with 1 piece at a time, put meat on a clean surface with one of the narrow ends facing you. Season with some of the  garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Scatter one-quarter of the pine nuts, chopped garlic, chopped basil, and parmigiano-reggiano along edge of meat closest to you, leaving about a 12” border on either side. Fold long sides of meat over filling by about 12” on either side, roll up snugly, and tie securely with kitchen twine.

Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add braciole and brown all of the sides (this takes about 4 minutes). Add reserved sauce, scraping browned bits stuck to bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, turning braciole occasionally, until very tender, about 1 12 hours for the veal or about 3 hours for the beef.

Transfer braciole to a cutting board; cut off and discard twine. Slice braciole crosswise and transfer to 4 warm plates. Spoon sauce on and around braciole and garnish with parsley and the remaining 4 sprigs basil.

Email me with any questions or let me know how it turned out!

Braciole Involtini Recipe

Ingredients

  • For the Sauce
  • 2 450g cans crushed tomato
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Meat
  • 8 sprigs basil
  • 4 250g pieces of veal or beef, pounded to 1⁄4” thickness
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 4 tbsp Pecorino cheese
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. For the sauce: Put tomatoes, garlic, oil, and 1 cup water into a large saucepan.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. For the meat: Chop leaves from 2 of the sprigs of basil and set aside.
  5. Working with 1 piece at a time, put meat on a clean surface with one of the narrow ends facing you.
  6. Season with some of the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Scatter one-quarter of the pine nuts, chopped garlic, chopped basil, and parmigiano-reggiano along edge of meat closest to you, leaving about a 1⁄2” border on either side.
  8. Fold long sides of meat over filling by about 1⁄2” on either side, roll up snugly, and tie securely with kitchen twine.
  9. Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add braciole and brown all of the sides (this takes about 4 minutes).
  10. Add reserved sauce, scraping browned bits stuck to bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  11. Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer, turning braciole occasionally, until very tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours for the veal or about 3 hours for the beef.
  12. Transfer braciole to a cutting board; cut off and discard twine. Slice braciole crosswise and transfer to 4 warm plates.
  13. Spoon sauce on and around braciole and garnish with parsley and the remaining 4 sprigs basil.
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