Monday, February 15, 2010
What Neapolitans call Braciole the rest of Italy calls Involtini. This is my Great Aunt (Zia) Antonietta's recipe and I consider it an heirloom recipe in that it has passed down several generations. My Dad translated it for me and said that she stressed that it must be fresh herbs since they are basically the bulk of the stuffing. My Zia grows her own, I remember her small patio right smack in the middle of Naples was filled with several pots of different herbs grown for their fragrance, food, and beauty. But if you don't grow your own herbs most grocery stores carry fresh herbs in the produce section.
1 1/2 pound flank steak (I get my butcher at Publix to cut it so thin I don't have to pound it. I also prefer the smaller pieces about the size of palm of hand rather than one large one which you have to cut.)
Fresh herbs: You need about 1 cup total of fresh herbs chopped into small pieces. My Zia Antonietta suggested: parsley, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, and rosemary. You can use all or some of the above.
1 garlic clove minced very fine
1/4 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
1cup red wine
two 28 ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes
2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup onion chopped fine
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.
If you could not get your butcher to cut the steak very very thin then proceed with the pounding: Lay the flank steak flat on the counter and cover with plastic wrap. Pound each piece out as thin as you can. You want each piece to be about the size of your hand from the the tips of your fingers to the bottom of your hand without the thumb. Rub it with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper both sides generously.
Sprinkle the herb 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.
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 miutes 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.