~My Dad and his Mother: Nona Flora Casolaro~Braciole or Involtini (Andrea Casolaro)
What Neapolitans call Braciole the rest of Italy calls Involtini.This is my Dad's recipe that he based on a recipe he got from his mother back in Napoli and some braciole he had at restaurant in Jersey City back in the 1960's called Le Figaro.
Here is a side note: my Nona Flora was in her 70's at the time this picture was taken which goes to show that Italian food is in fact healthy! She is now in her 90's.
I have the recipe scribbled in pencil on the inside front cover of my torn and tattered cook-book Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cooking which he had given me when I first got married. I cherish that book (It sits out in my kitchen next to my other favorite cook-books) and I cherish this recipe as well.
1 1/2 pound flank steak (get butcher to cut into very thin pieces the size of you palm)
1/4 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1 garlic clove minced very fine
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1cup red wine
two 28 ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes crushed
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup diced onion
Stir the bread crumbs, cheese, egg, garlic, salt and pepper, parsley, and a few tablespoons of the olive oil in a bowl to blend. Add more olive oil or breadcrumbs depending on whether it is too moist or too dry. You want a filling that will spread out nicely yet hold it's shape. if it is too moist it will spill out during cooking.
If the pieces are not super thin then proceed with this step.Lay the flank steak flat on the counter and cover with plastic wrap. Pound it out as thin as you can. You want each piece to be about the size of your hand palm. Rub it with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper the inside generously.
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over each steak to cover the top evenly leaving a slight edge. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak to enclose the filling completely.
Stir the herbs, cheese, and a few tablespoons of the olive oil in a bowl to blend. Add more olive oil it is too dry. You want a filling that will spread out nicely yet hold it's shape. if it is too moist it will spill out during cooking.
Now secure each involtini with toothpicks making sure both sides are obstructed by toothpicks so that they can brown. Whatever amount you use remember the total number (I write it down) so that you will remember how many there are when removing them! Some people use twine but that takes sooooo much time.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the involtini and cook until browned on both sides. You know they are ready to turn when they no longer stick, do not try and force them.
Remove the beef and set on a plate.
Add a bit more oil and then onion, garlic and a pinch of salt, saute until soft not brown.
Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil.
Add the tomatoes and beef at same time and bring to a boil. Turn to a low simmer, cover and cook for several hours, the longer the more tender your beef will be and this will take atleast 3 hours. Just make sure it is a low simmer, barely just moving.
Remove the involtini from the sauce.
Now you can simmer the sauce uncovered if you want it to thicken up a bit. I would say about 15 minutes meanwhile remove the toothpicks. Now add the beef back and allow to re-warm.
When ready to serve place the delicious little bundles on a platter with some sauce poured over.
They are usually cut into 1/2 inch slices and they look like little pinwheels!
Use the sauce to serve over some spaghetti as a side dish.