This recipe is my updated version of Grandma Angelo’s beef dish that was always served for special Italian gatherings. I use flank steak, butterflied, sprinkled with pecorino, garlic, Italian parsley, basil and prosciutto; then roll it together and braise in an Italian tomato sauce. I prefer keeping the braciole in one large roll, and then to serve it sliced and arranged on a sauced platter.
My Grandma used a beef steak, usually bottom round, and cut it in strips to make individual size bracioles - about the size of large meatballs. Back in the day they often explained bracioles to others as Italian Beef Rolls, and this is exactly how my mom posted the recipe in a spiral bound Catholic Church cookbook for my no-speaka-da-English Grandma!
Regardless of the meat used or its size, as the braciole simmers it becomes tender, mouth-watering juicy, releasing a wonderful flavor throughout the kitchen; you will know it is done when the sauce sticks to the meat and the aroma fills the air with Italian goodness.
Leftover braciole slices are excellent for a sandwich the next day!
SPECIAL NOTE: during the summer we like braising braciole outdoors; grill the rolled meat on all sides over direct heat to brown, and then using a cast iron Dutch oven, simmer, covered, in sauce over indirect heat. This method ends in a delicious smoky flavored braciole.
Test Kitchen Notes
I grew up eating Braciole, my mother made it often when she made a mixed meat ragu. So Lapadia's recipe brought back some wonderful memories. I'm glad that my mother doesn't use a computer so she won't see this, because I love Lapadia's version more than hers. I was a little intimidated at the idea of butterflying a flank steak but Lapadia made this step so easy by providing a link to a wonderful how-to video. Thanks to that I was successful. The filling is delicious. It was a perfect balance of flavors. The only change I made was not to the braciole itself but to the sauce; I used basil instead of oregano. The braciole flavored the sauce so beautifully it was irresistible and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. This recipe is a keeper! - sdebrango —sdebrango
Butterfly the flank - see step 2 (or ask the butcher to do it). Cover with plastic wrap and pound out it out to an even thickness; and you can trim to square off the meat, if needed - for easy for rolling. At this point decide if you would like to make one large roll or smaller rolls; if not, then divide the meat into 2-3 pieces.
Here is a helpful 1 minute demo butterflying the flank:
Sprinkle the interior of meat with pepper, garlic, parsley, basil, cheese and prosciutto (I don’t salt this, the cheese is enough).
Roll the meat jellyroll fashion with the grain - so that it will be cut against the grain when serving. Tie the roll(s) up with butcher string about every 1-1/2 inch.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet and sear to brown the meat thoroughly on all sides.
Add the crushed plum tomatoes and seasonings to the browned braciole. Cover skillet. Simmer the meat for at least 2 hours, or until beef is tender when pierced with a knife.
When ready, place on serving platter, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, cut the string and slice about every 2 inches…spoon some sauce over and serve.