Bologna to Bolognese: Adventures With Food

Food is necessary. Food is fun. Food is an adventure!

My name is Shannon and this is my adventure, my love affair with food.

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brilliant Braciole

Weekends are my haven, a time to relax and recharge. A favorite part of that for me is Saturday Mornings when I sleep in and then laze about in bed watching the Food Network. It's a guilty pleasure I indulge in weekly and usually I enjoy it but I am not spurred to action by anything I see. Recently however I watched an episode of "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" and I was moved by this simple and delicious recipe for Braciole.

My husband is often confounded when I talk about "Tasting" food in my head, but once you grow familiar with different ingredients and their distinct qualities I find it is easy to imagine how they will taste together just by reading the recipe. So when I heard the ingredients of this dish I couldn't wait to try it, and luckily I just happened to have almost everything on hand! While it takes some time to cook it's worth every minute, in fact the sauce alone is worth the effort.



Beef Rolls:

Extra-virgin olive oil
2 ribs celery finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
Kosher salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups day old Italian bread, cut into chunks
1/2 can of beef broth
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1/2 pound baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound spinach or I prefer an herb salad mix (arugula, spinach, chard, frisee, radicchio, etc...)
1/2 cup grated provolone
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 pounds top round, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 12)

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 ribs celery finely diced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (you can use less, season to taste)
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
6 oz tomato paste (1 small can - I use this to measure the water)
1 cup wine (red preferably but whatever is on hand will do)
3 fresh ripe tomatoes diced (including the pulp)
12 oz water
1/2 cup Port wine
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
(Special equipment: toothpicks )

For the beef rolls:

Coat a large heavy bottomed pot with olive oil, then add the onions celery and crushed red pepper. Season with salt, to taste. Cook the onions until they are soft and very aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl, combine the bread and the stock. Toss to combine and let sit until the bread has absorbed the stock and is very soft. Reserve.

Add the garlic to the pan with the onion and celery and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt, to taste, and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have let off their moisture, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the greens.

Add the onion/mushroom mixture to the reserved bread and stir to combine. Add the provolone and Parmesan, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Set aside.

Lay the beef slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat mallet to flatten and even out the slices. Put about 1/4 cup of filling on 1 end of each of the pounded beef slices and roll up. Secure the rolls with toothpicks. Repeat this process with the remaining beef and filling.

In the pot you used to cook the filling brown the beef rolls on all sides. When the beef rolls are brown on all sides, remove them from the pan and reserve. Make the sauce in the same pot.


Add a light coating of fresh olive oil, if needed, and add the onions celery, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt, to taste, and put the pot over medium heat. Sweat the veggies until they are translucent and very aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red wine, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, port and the water and season with salt, to taste. Return the beef rolls to the pan and tuck them into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is very tender and flavorful, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the toothpicks before serving. To serve, arrange 2 or 3 braciole on each serving plate. Halve 1 or 2 rolls to expose the stuffing. Spoon on some of the sauce and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

As I usually do, I adjusted this recipe based on my personal style and what i had on hand. If you want Chef Ann Burrell's original from the show you can find it here:

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