Beef braciole is a hearty, slowly-simmered homestyle southern Italian dish that’s perfect this time of year.
There are numerous variations of this classic dish (typically pronounced “brah-CHOL-ee”), and you may also see it referred to as Involtini di Manza. Basically, a filling of cheese, breadcrumbs and prosciutto (or salami) is placed atop thin slices of beef.
The filling may also include spinach, pine nuts and raisins, and it could even be prepared as one large roll using a larger cut such as a flank steak. The beef is then rolled, secured with toothpicks and braised until fork-tender in a wine-based sauce.
This version of beef braciole was adapted from a recipe in the “The Sopranos Family Cookbook.” A client who was a fan of the show asked me to prepare the recipe a number of years ago, and it’s been a favorite on my menu ever since. I made a few changes such as adding breadcrumbs to the filling to give it more body and beef broth to the sauce because as directed in the original recipe, it had a tendency to thicken substantially during cooking. The original recipe calls for fresh basil in the sauce; however, a good dried herb blend also works well this time of year.
Kroger sells thinly sliced boneless top round in their meat case, but they will custom-cut two slices for you. The slices are quite large, so you will want to cut them in half widthwise to create four smaller pieces that are about the size of a small plate.
Prosciutto is a dry-cured Italian ham. Prosciutto di Parma is imported from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and can be quite expensive. Less expensive types are available in most area deli departments.
Beef bracoile is easily prepared ahead of time. Brown the rolls, and get the sauce prepared to the point of braising. Let cool, and then refrigerate. When ready to cook, place back on the stovetop or in a preheated oven to finish. It’s also a perfect dish for your slow cooker.
Serve the beef rolls over thick, tube-shaped pasta such as ziti, penne or rigatoni along with a green salad and crusty, garlicky bread.
2 thin slices boneless top round (about 1 pound)
8 cloves garlic, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving if desired
1 tablespoon seasoned dry breadcrumbs
— salt and black pepper, to taste
4 thin slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
1 can (14-ounce) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (such as Penzeys)
Cut top round slices in half widthwise so that you have 4 equal pieces. Place beef between two pieces of plastic wrap. Gently pound to 1/4 to 1/8-inch thickness.
Mince 4 cloves of garlic; slice the remaining 4 cloves.
Combine minced garlic, parsley, cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle filling evenly among all beef slices. Place a prosciutto slice over the filling.
Roll the beef into a cylinder, tucking in the sides to hold in the filling as you roll. Secure with toothpicks.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Place the beef rolls, seam side down in the pot, and brown seam side first to seal it. Cook, turning the meat occasionally until each roll is nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
Add the wine and the sliced garlic. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add beef broth, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Place beef rolls back in the pot and bring back to a simmer.
Cover and cook on low heat, turning occasionally until beef is tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 11/2 hours. Alternately, cook covered in a 325-degree oven for 11/2-2 hours or in a slow cooker for 3-4 hours on high, 5-6 hours on medium or 7-8 hours on low. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Remove toothpicks and serve over pasta with additional grated cheese if desired.