Beef Braciola

I am truly enamored with Lucinda Scala Quinn. Have been from the first time I saw her on television. Her cooking style and mine are similar.  Her recipes and ingredients are accessible and easy and wonderful for family and friends, for all sorts of occasions. Many of the recipes from Mad Hungry come from one of Lucinda’s first books, Lucinda’s Rustic Italian Kitchen. Wonderful book with some truly wonderful recipes inside – including this one for Beef Braciola.

It never occurred to me to make braciola. To me it was always something people put in sauce, something the butcher made, and not something I cared for very much. There was something about this recipe and photo that drew me to it – making braciola the star of the dish! How ingenious!

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 10 slices top-round sirloin, very thinly sliced, pounded to 4-6 inches
  • 10 pieces string, 14 inches long
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine (optional) or water
  • 1 28-ounce can best-quality tomatoes, coarsely blended

NOTE: I had the butcher cut this for me. I had 6 slices. I didn’t adjust the amount of stuffing any. I would prefer to have a little left over than not having enough!

You will of course only see 5 throughout this recipe as the Pup helped herself to a slice as I turned my back for a SPLIT second to put down the camera!

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of the garlic in a small skillet over medium heat until it sizzles but does not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in the breadcrumbs, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Stir in the Parmesan, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper, the red pepper flakes, and thyme.

Lay the meat slices out side by side on a clean workspace. Sprinkle each slice with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Place a scant 1/4 cup filling over each meat slice, leaving a 1/4-inch border.

NOTE: I pounded the beef a bit to make it thinner and easier to roll. Also, I am so lousy at tying up meat (no comments from the peanut gallery) that I made it as simple as I could and just tied it in one spot. Really it was just to hold it together while searing it,. The Braciola Police were not going to give me a hard time for my ugly tying skills!

Drizzle on olive oil and roll each piece up from the widest to narrowest end. Tie each piece with the string.

Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Just before the oil smokes, add the meat bundles. (Do not crowd the pan or the meat won’t brown.) Working in batches if necessary, cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the braciola from the pan and keep warm in the oven.

Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the onion and the remaining teaspoon of garlic, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the wine or water, stirring to deglaze the pan, loosening all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Return the beef to the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Remove the bundles from the pan, one at a time, snip off the string, and return to the pan. The dish may be made a couple of days ahead to this point, and the taste will improve. Serve as desired.

NOTE: I made a little pasta for the side and topped it with the tomato sauce.  And that thieving pup I mentioned earlier? Seems too much of a good thing IS bad for you! That is how she spent the rest of the night! Not sure if she was hanging her head in shame or suffering from being stuffed and eating raw beef!

Scalloped Tomatoes

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my side dishes bore me. I seem to make the same ones over and over and over.  I see wonderful recipes for sides and veggies, cut them out and never quite get there. I had seen Ina make this dish, printed it, and added it to the ever growing pile of sides-I-will-never-try. I was tickled that one of the choices for this month’s Barefoot Bloggers was Ina’s Scalloped Tomatoes.  It took care of so many self-inflicted obligations – one thing out of my pile of things to try, a new summery type side dish, and Barefoot Bloggers.  Getting so many things out of one recipe can’t possibly be bad!

  • 5 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule, crusts removed
  • 16 plum tomatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

NOTE: The recipe calls for good olive oil. I can not stand this about Ina’s recipes. You need 5 tablespoons of olive oil all together. Can’t she just SAY THAT! For those of you who were going to use BAD olive oil, please refrain, at least for this recipe!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

NOTE: I don’t think the boule I used was dense enough. You really need a dense loaf.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

NOTE: I combined the tomato mixture first. I didn’t want to take too much attention away from the bread and figured it would take more than 5 minutes to put the tomato mixture together. 

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

NOTES: This dish is really terrific.  I think the bread cubes need to be a bit bigger, and definitely need to be toasted more than what I did. They need to be really firm and toasted enough to not turn to MUSH against the tomatoes. I also think that next time I may remove some of the pulp and seeds from the tomatoes.  The amount of liquid made the bread a little too mushy for my liking. And, lastly, I’m not sure that the tomatoes and bread need to cook together in the pan for 5 minutes before going into the oven. Next time, I am going to just mix them quickly and then into the oven.

Stuffed Tomatoes

I love Giada de Laurentiis. I love her simplicity, the freshness of flavors, and that out of every cookbook I have dozens of things I want to make. Her recipes don’t take a lot of tweaking and don’t contain ridiculous ingredients that the home cook would not normally have in their pantry.

This recipe, Stuffed Tomatoes, from Everyday Italian, is so great and so easy that it just had to be a side to a wonderful pork shoulder recipe.

img_04741I had this recipe in the back of my mind when I went to the supermarket and saw beautiful tomatoes. It’s hard this time of year to find tomatoes worth buying, but these looked wonderful, and I thought this recipe would be perfect.

 

This recipe comes together very quickly, there are no unusual ingredients, aside from the aborio. BTW, if you don’t have aborio, you can easily use orzo, just make sure you don’t over cook it.

I usually add a little breadcrumbs to the top before I put the little tops back on.

img_04782

One of my favorite parts is the leftover stuffing. I scatter it on the bottom of the baking dish and it come out crisp and crunchy – definitely a cook’s treat!!

This is a great side dish!!