Braciole: Italian braised beef

A slow-cooked meal that will be declared a masterpiece.

Whipped, The Blog
Braciole (Italian braised beef) is slow-cooked in a tomato sauce rich with vegetables and simple seasonings.

Photography does not do this meal justice. I can’t possibly capture the amazing flavors that resulted after hours of diligent attention and slow cooking. If only I could make a poof of aroma emanate from your monitor right now – fresh minced garlic mingled with beef browned in olive oil, red wine, and slow-cooked tomato sauce.

This is the perfect meal to make on a cold winter day. All afternoon, your senses will be tantalized and teased with aromas, sounds and colors wafting from your kitchen. Things often taste better when someone else cooks them. After a few unwelcome (and overly controlling) interventions early in the process, I vacated my usual domain and let the man of the house have his way with our kitchen. Boy, was I rewarded.

Mr. Whipped chooses recipes I would likely not master as they require more time, precision or research than my patience will allow. His Liege Sugar Waffles continue to be one of the most popular posts on this blog. Though he stems from Dutch and Greek roots, he certainly has a knack for Italian. This Braciole was the best I have ever had.

Braciole – Italian Braised Beef

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely grated carrot
1/4 cup celery minced
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons basil
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup pecorino cheese, finely grated

For the Beef:
2 pounds flank steak
1/2 cup pecorino cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup red wine [editor's note: substitute 1 cup red cooking wine or 1 cup beef broth]

For serving:
Pasta of your choice

For the ragu (sauce), heat olive oil over medium heat at the bottom of a medium sauce pan. Add onion and cook a few minutes until translucent. Add carrot, celery and garlic and cook another minute. Add cans of crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, bay leaf, pepper and salt. Add 2 cups water and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add cheese to the sauce. Once the sauce bubbles, turn down the heat and let it simmer uncovered while you work on the meat.

Rinse the steak and pat it dry with paper towel. Use a meat tenderizer to pound the steak, reducing its thickness by a third. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the meat. Rub the garlic onto one side of the meat. Sprinkle both cheeses, parsley and breadcrumbs evenly over the steak. Roll the steak and secure the roll with either string or toothpicks.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil to brown the meat. Add the roll and brown on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate. Add 1 cup of red wine [or broth] and deglaze the pan, scraping to remove the brown bits from the bottom. Cook until wine reduces by half. Return the meat to the pan.

Pour the ragu (sauce) over the meat into the large pan so that the meat is submerged. Let the meat and sauce simmer for 2-3 hours uncovered. When it is down the meat should be very tender but not completely fallen apart. To test it, put a fork into the meat and turn it. The meat should come apart and loosen easily.

Remove the meat, untie string or remove toothpicks. Slice the roll into individual portions and serve covered in sauce on a platter. For the pasta, cook it until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Ladle sauce over the pasta and heat over low flame for 2-3 minute so the pasta cooks a bit more and absorbs the sauce.

Serve the meat with the pasta and extra sauce and cheese on the side if desired.

Related post: Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce 

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