If you’re not familiar with Beef Braciole (I had never heard of it until I moved out East in my early twenties), it’s a classic Italian dish with many variations. It can be made with thin, individual slices of beef such as round or as one large roll using flank steak. It can also be made with pork and it always has a savory filling. But first, get the pronunciation right: [brah-chee-oh-ley, brah-choh-; Italian brah-chaw-le].
For this take on stuffed beef rolls, Cook’s Illustrated chose flank steak rather than top or bottom round because its loose grain makes it easier to pound thin and its higher fat content means that it emerges from the oven tender and moist. And that it did!
This filling is on the bold side, with the inclusion of umami-rich ingredients such as prosciutto; anchovies; and fontina, a good melter that also brings much-needed fat to the dish. In addition, a gremolata-inspired mix added to the filling provides a jolt of flavor and freshness. Right up our alley! Finally, beef broth is added to the tomato sauce to integrate the beef and the sauce into a unified whole.
This is not your quick weeknight meal. It takes the better part of 4 to 5 hours before you will be serving it on the dinner table, so plan accordingly.
And below is a bonus Roasted Broccoli Rabe recipe to accompany the main dish; this recipe hailing from Milk Street. It takes about 30 minutes max, so you can make it just as the braciole is getting done.
NOTES: Before you begin, cut sixteen 10-inch lengths of kitchen twine. You can substitute sharp provolone for the fontina, if desired. For the most tender braciole, be sure to roll the meat so that the grain runs parallel to the length of the roll. Serve the braciole and sauce together, with pasta or polenta, or separately, as a pasta course with the sauce followed by the meat.
Hearty Beef Braciole
- 7 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 10 garlic cloves, minced, divided
- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
- 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- ⅓ cup plus 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, divided
- ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
- ⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
- ⅓ cup plain dried bread crumbs
- 3 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (3⁄4 cup)
- 1 (2- to 2½-pound) flank steak
- 8 thin slices prosciutto
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 large onion, chopped fine
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- ¾ cup dry red wine
- 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups beef broth
- Your choice of pasta, optional
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Stir 3 tablespoons oil, half of garlic, lemon zest, and anchovies together in medium bowl. Add ⅓ cup basil, parsley, Pecorino, and bread crumbs and stir to incorporate. Stir in fontina until evenly distributed and set aside filling.
- Halve steak against grain to create 2 smaller steaks. Lay 1 steak on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge. Holding blade of chef’s knife parallel to counter, halve steak horizontally to create 2 thin pieces. Repeat with remaining steak.
- Cover 1 piece with plastic wrap and, using meat pounder, flatten into rough rectangle measuring no more than ¼ inch thick. Repeat pounding with remaining 3 pieces. Cut each piece in half, with grain, to create total of 8 pieces.
- Lay 4 pieces on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge (if 1 side is shorter than the other, place shorter side closer to you). Distribute half of filling evenly over pieces. Top filling on each piece with 1 slice of prosciutto, folding to fit, and press firmly. Keeping filling in place, roll each piece away from you to form tight log. Tie each roll with 2 pieces kitchen twine to secure. Repeat process with remaining steak pieces, filling, and prosciutto. Sprinkle rolls on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown rolls on 2 sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer rolls to plate.
- Add onion to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in pepper flakes and remaining garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Return rolls to pot; bring to simmer. Add parchment paper to cover the entire pot opening, then cover tightly and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is fork-tender, 2½ to 3 hours, using tongs to flip rolls halfway through braising.
- Transfer braciole to serving dish and discard twine. If there is a lot of fat on the surface of the sauce, skim off as much as you can with a large spoon.
- Meanwhile, if serving pasta, cook according to package directions.
- TIP: If your sauce reduced too much (ours did), add up to a cup of the pasta water to thin it. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons basil into tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over braciole and serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.
Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated
Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes
The high heat renders the stems and florets tender while the leaves crisp around the edges, like kale chips with a spicy broccoli bite. Make sure not crowd the pan or everything will steam rather than roast. In the end, they may not look real pretty, but they are fantastic in the taste category!
If possible, use whole toasted fennel seed then grind it down yourself either with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. There was a sweet-and-sour mint dressing that was also part of this recipe, but we omitted it. And in a word, the rabe was “Delish!”
Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes
- 1 lb. broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, well dried
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Heat oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- In a large bowl, toss broccoli rabe with olive oil, fennel, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Transfer the broccoli rabe to the baking sheet and roast until just beginning to brown, stirring halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes total.
Recipe courtesy of Milk Street