Our Grandmom and Grandpop lived with my family through all of my childhood. Both came over from Italy, and luckily for us my Gradmom brought over all of the Old World Italian traditions and recipes. One of my favorites was her Beef Braciola (bra-zhole'). Paired with a Sunday Gravy, she'd assemble the braciola early in the day, immerse it in the gravy, and let it cook all day. When dinner time arrived, the meat was so tender we could cut it with a fork. It's still one our favorite meals - but it's not for the faint of heart or the impatient. It takes times to prepare and to cook. But the result is oh so delicious!
In Italy, the dish is often called involtini, which literally translated means "rolls." Many versions of braciola call for small, individual rolls. Grandmom's version was one big roll that was sliced into servings. The advantage of one large roll is that the slices equate to about equal portions of the steak and filling.
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs flank steak, thin cut or butterfly cut, preferably one large piece
- 4 ounces sliced Prosciutto
- 4-5 slices Provolone
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- Your favorite spaghetti sauce or Italian Gravy
FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
Sauté the onion and garlic in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil until soft and translucent. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Pour off excess liquid and let cool.
Mix together the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, onion, garlic, ground beef, and chicken broth. Mix well to combine all ingredients.
Set the steak on a cutting board or clean surface. You rill roll the meat from the wide side. Flatten steak with a meat mallet or rolling pin to about ½ inch thickness. Rub one side with olive oil.
Lay the Prosciutto with the grain of the meat in a single layer. Next lay hard-boiled eggs, then the provolone cheese slices in a single layer. Lay the bay leaves on top of the cheese.
Spoon the meat mixture on top of the bay leaves, and spread evenly over the steak to within about 1 inch of the edge.
Gently roll the meat, jelly-roll style, and tie with Butcher's string about every 2-inches.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a deep pot or Dutch oven on medium heat. When the oil is hot, brown the meat roll, turning until it is browned on all sides.
Add your spaghetti sauce or Italian Gravy, enough to cover the meat roll. Cover the pot and let the meat simmer in the gravy for 1½ to 2 hours, turning occasionally, until meat is cooked and tender. Remove braciola from pot, remove string, slice, and serve with fresh crusty bread or pasta.