One thing my kids can never accuse me of is not cooking for them. They grew up in a household where the family dinner happened every [well, almost] night. Glenn and I made a conscious effort to make family meals a priority. My love of cooking certainly helped, but there were [and still are] carryout orders and pizzas on the table too. We made dinner an event of sorts. Books, games and electronic devices put away. During a meal, we could share the “news of the day” and see and talk with one another. At least once a week in their youth we would have an extra mouth or two to feed at the dinner table. You see, if they had friends over, they were always invited to stay. I guess “feasting with friends” has always been part of our lives. But the additional people at the table always livened things up. Plus, we could always learn a little more about our own children with a talkative friend around! This past weekend, Mandy quietly came home to Michigan. No fan-fare, no parties, no running around trying to see everyone. She drove home with her friend [Megan] to take care of buying her bridesmaid dress for Megan’s upcoming wedding. The rest of the time it was just our little family. And we ate really well! No company meant no cleaning. No cleaning meant lots of cooking. Her first night home we had a fabulous meal of the Braciola, Mediterranean style green beans, roasted potatoes and crusty bread. Fabulous! I had never made Braciola before. I’ve only had it in restaurants. I don’t know why, because it is so simple to make. Once the dish is prepped [about 30 minutes or so], it simply simmers for a couple of hours. The kitchen [and subsequently house] smelled wonderful. I found it a perfect “ease into the fall season” recipe. And even though there were no friends or extended family members at our table, I still learned a new thing or two about my kids [err, adults] 😉
2 pounds beef top sirloin or chuck steak, boneless and thinly sliced [or pounded to 1/16″ thickness]
5 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped [divided use]
1/3 cup pancetta or prosciutto, diced
2 teaspoons + 1/4 cup olive oil [divided use]
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
1 small onion, fine dice
1/2 cup red wine [if it’s one you’d drink…you can cook with it!]
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes in juice
1 bay leaf
•Make the filling. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the pancetta or prosciutto. Cook until pancetta/prosciutto just starts to crisp. Add the minced garlic, stirring just until fragrant. Remove from heat. Add the pine nuts and 4 Tablespoons of the parsley [reserve 1 Tablespoon as garnish] to the skillet, stir to incorporate well. Set aside.
•Place a slice of beef on a work surface perpendicular to you. Season with salt and pepper. Place about 1 Tablespoon of the filling at the bottom half of the steak. Starting with the filled portion, roll beef up and around the filling to a tight cylinder. Secure with a toothpick and repeat with remaining beef and filling. [I had 10 pieces of beef that were approximately 5×10″ in size]
•Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Working in batches, add the beef rolls and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides [about 5 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 of any browned bits remaining. Cook until wine is reduced to about 1/4th.
•Stir in red pepper flakes, tomatoes [crushing each tomato by hand into the pot] plus all the juice from the can and the bay leaf. Return the beef rolls to the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered partially, and stirring occasionally until meat is cooked through and tender, about 2 1/2 hours.
•Remove meat rolls from sauce [remove toothpicks] and transfer to a serving platter. Pour sauce over meat rolls and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine
In addition to the Braciola, our meal was rounded out with Greek Style Green Beans and Crispy, Roasted Potatoes. [Recipes coming soon…]