Monday, November 18, 2013

Meaty Monday: Rolling in Braciole And Quick Marinara

You all  are going to have to live with a repost of a favorite for two reasons: First, We're having this today for dinner, but from a batch I froze a months ago and I need room in the freezer for the holidays. And second, I had to go to a work event last night and had some internet connection problems yesterday. So today's Meaty Monday entry is an oldie, but very, very goodie. This is very easy to double and freeze for another hurry-up meal.

My mom stayed home when I was a kid, and depending on her mood, there’d occasionally be some sort of Italian extravaganza of pasta and meats and sauce for dinner.  My dad and I loved it. A favorite was braciole and rigatoni. The first time I ever heard my mother swear was while she was flattening the beef for braciole and dropped the mallet on her bare toes. It added greatly to my vocabulary at age 7. Sadly, I don’t have her recipe, since she wrote down next to nothing, but this comes pretty damn close. And I DO remember what she said. And it wasn’t "damn".
We had this tonight with some goat cheese gnocchi made in big batches and frozen (yes, yes, the recipe will show up here sooner or later), and some simply cooked green beans from the last of this years’ garden. Mom would have loved this, especially since she didn’t have to swing a mallet.

Braciole Carlo
My husband, Chuck, aka "Carlo" adores braciole, so this is for you, hon.

4 servings

1 lb. top round beef, braciole-cut scallops in 4 pieces
8 oz. hot or sweet Italian style sausage, patties or casings removed
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large green onion (scallion) green and white part, minced
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
3 oz. stale bread, in fine crumbs
2 oz. Romano cheese, grated, Locatelli Romano preferred
¾ cup+ dry white wine
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Coarse ground black pepper to taste
4 toothpicks

Two quarts of basic tomato sauce or marinara* (see below)

Brown the sausage meat in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  You want to render the fat from the sausage a bit and brown it lightly. Next add the scallion and garlic and continue to stir until the green onion softens.
Use a nonstick pan for this, so you won't need to drown it all in oil.
Turn off the heat. Add the parsley, bread crumbs and the Romano. Mix gently to combine and absorb the oil from fat from the pan. Begin to add the wine, slowly, a bit at a time until the bread mixture can be molded easily, but there should be no excess juices seeping out. You may need a few extra tablespoons of wine. If you put in too much, turn on the heat under the pan and let some of the moisture steam away. Let cool away from the burner while you prepare the beef.

Place each beef scallop between two sheets of waxed paper, or in a leftover produce plastic bag (I save them for stuff like this) and hammer them out carefully to less than ¼” thick. Be careful not to make holes in the meat, although a few are inevitable and really don’t matter.  When you’ve done all four, lay them out lengthwise on a counter with one of the short ends towards you.
No swearing, yet.
Place one quarter of the bread crumb mixture on the wider of the short sides, covering about 1/3 of the meat, then roll up to the narrowest end, securing with a toothpick. If the filling comes out a bit, don’t worry, just push it back in.

Wipe out the same non-stick sauté pan, and heat the olive oil in it over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the braciole, and brown on all sides.

The braciole won't be perfectly browned, but do the best you can.
While the braciole is cooking, bring your tomato sauce to a simmer in a pan just wide enough to hold the bracciole without crowding. When the bracciole is browned, drop them into the tomato sauce or marinara sauce and braise at a simmer for about 2 to 2.5 hours until tender.

Serve with pasta, gnocchi or soft polenta and a green vegetable.

*Quick, Lazy Tomato Sauce

Heat 2 Tblsp of olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add two garlic cloves, minced. Add two 28 oz. cans of tomato puree, one 15- ounce can of diced tomatoes and a half cup of dry red or white wine. If you have tomato paste in a tube, add 3 Tblsp of that, too. If not, skip it.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Add one heaping tablespoon each of dried basil and dried oregano. Add a small pinch of dried red pepper flakes, and add salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. I personally like a pinch of powdered cloves and a teaspoon of anchovy paste added, too, but that’s sort of a family thing.

Simmer for as long as you can, up to an hour, but 15 minutes will do. Makes about two quarts.

Braciole, with goat cheese gnocchi and homegrown beans!

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