Brasciole, sometimes called, involtini is made from thin, tenderized slices of a cheap cut of meat, generally top round. Depending on the region of Italy you visit, the fillings vary and the brasciole is cooked differently. I prepare them with simple (read: cheap) fillings that are no doubt a reflection of the fact that my mother’s family would not have been afford more than what is shown. Red meat itself, my mother recounts, was purchased only for Sunday meals, and in a minimal quantity, split sparingly between the family members – and yet savored and appreciated, as it was a luxury.
The brasciole is relatively easy to assemble, but what makes it so flavorful and tender is that it will simmer for hours in tomato sauce, making it so that the beef just falls apart when you cut into it. This brasciole is great on its own, served with a crisp salad after a plate of pasta with sauce – or use it as part of ragu, an Italian stew of meats simmered in tomato sauce that often dons Sunday tables.
- 2 lbs (8 pieces) brasciole meat – top round, sliced thinly (often labeled as “Brasciole Meat”
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoons parsely, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow or Spanish online, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 28 oz can of pureed tomatoes with no added flavorings or additional salt
- 14 oz water (fill half a can-ful from the tomatoes after you have added to the sauce).
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Wrap each slice of brasciole meat between a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap loosely. Tenderize the meat slightly with a meat mallet, being careful not to break through the meat, as it is already sliced thinly.
- Remove the meat from the plastic wrap and lay on a work surface. Season each slice with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Directly in the center of each slice, fill with a few slices of sliced onion, sliced garlic, a few leaves of parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Although there is no need to be exact in how much each brasciole is filled, you will want to ensure that the the filling can be contained when the brasciole is rolled – it should not come out of the ends of the meat.
- Wrap the bottom half of the meat over the filling, tucking it under and continuing to roll until you have formed the involtini. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining meat and set aside.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and allow to heat for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, sear the brasciole on each side until the meat browns and releases easily (perhaps with a gentle nudge) from the pot, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
- Begin to make the sauce by adding the tomato puree to the pot. Rinse the can with tap water, filling halfway, and add this to the pot. Add the spices and salt, stir to combine, and allow the mixture to simmer, about 10 minutes.
- Add the brasciole into the sauce, gently spooning the sauce over the meat to cover it. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow the sauce to simmer for about 3 hours. Please note that the meat will cook through quickly – simmering the sauce for a long period of time will allow the meat to become tender.
- Remove brasciole from pot and cover in sauce from the pot. Serve alongside pasta with remaining sauce.