Braciole alla Bolognese
As this is one of those recipes where every Italian and person of Italian descent claims to have the ONLY real recipe, I advise my readers to be wary of imitations.
My recipe is based on a style that mixes ground veal and pork for the stuffing. Jeff Smith, writing in his The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian does not use any ground meat in his recipe. As I've forgotten where I first saw this recipe, the best I can say is thanks to the millions of cooks around the world who make and love braciole.
This recipe takes two days. The first day consists of mixing the ingredients for the stuffing and the next day consists of the braising. Serve with rice or on a bed of mashed potatoes. A nice red wine complements this dish well.
8 thin slices of beef top round (or bottom round, it doesn't much matter)
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal (or substitute 16 ozs. ground pork)
1/4 tsp. lemon zest (wrap the zested lemon tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate)
1/2 c. stale bread crumbs, or let fresh crumbs sit out overnight on the counter.
1/4 c. milk for soaking the breadcrumbs
1 egg (beaten -- reserved)
2 T. grated Pecorino-Romano (or Parmesan an OK substitute)
2 T. pinenuts -- which will be toasted in a dry skillet
sufficient flour for dredging the braciole
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil (I only use extra virgin)
1 clove of garlic -- to be peeled and minced
2 ribs of celery -- to be peeled and diced
1 whole brown onion -- thinly sliced or diced
1/2 C. red wine
1 C. beef stock
2 fresh tomatoes -- medium to large
1 bay leaf or more to taste
parsley -- minced
2 T. fresh mint -- minced
2 T. fresh basil -- minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
butcher's twine or household string
To make the stuffing
Soak the bread crumbs in the milk for 5 minutes. Next, squeeze the excess milk, reserving the bread and discarding the milk. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet. When they have browned slightly (not necessary to brown all over), remove to a bowl to allow to cook before they overcook. Mix the pork and veal and to that add the nuts, beaten egg, lemon zest, soaked breadcrumbs, grated cheese, salt and pepper. Cover and reserve.
Take a piece of plastic wrap or a freezer bag, enclose the beef slices in that. Pound thin with a meat hammer to break down the meat's fiber. Not too hard, not too long. When all the slices are flattened, add one tablespoon of filling to each, which, roll into a log and tie up with twine. When all are ready, put into a container, cover well and refrigerate overnight, or until ready to cook.
To Cook the Braciole
Remove from the refrigerator if necessary and allow to come to near room temperature, about 1 hour. On a plate, put the flour and dredge each log in that. Set aside. Heat an oven to KEEP WARM, or 150 degrees F. Slice the onion and mince the garlic, reserve that, covered. Peel and chop the celery in 1/2" thick slices and reserve. In a 3 to 4 quart heavy pot or pan, heat 2 T. each of butter and olive oil. Brown the logs, to not crowd the pan and thus reduce the heat too much a few at a time and remove them whence browned to the pre-warmed oven. When they are all in the oven, raise the heat on the pot, saute the onion and when it near translucent, add the garlic. Next, add the celery and saute 5 minutes longer. Return the meat to the pan, raise the heat, add the wine and reduce it by 1/3 to 1/2. Add the beef stock, tomatoes and bay leafs. Bring the pot to a low simmer, cover and cook 90 minutes. Served sprinkled with minced parsley.
Braciole, keep very well and are better the next day, reheated.