Beef braciole (pronounced brah-ZHOHL, meaning “bracelet”) is a dish I’d never heard of until, like millions of people across the USA, I became of fan of the hit HBO series, The Sopranos. When the companion cookbook, The Sopranos Family Cookbook: As Compiled by Artie Bucco, was published in 2002, I made sure to get a copy so I could try all the amazing foods for myself.
The very first recipe I tried was Beef Braciole. And believe it or not, I made this dish in the little galley of our boat, the Rapscallion, back in Chicago. Since it was only my husband and me spending weekends on the boat, we’d often invite a few other boater friends from our pier to the Rapscallion for dinner. This dish was a real hit! Over the years as I’ve made this recipe, I’ve adapted it a little bit, but not much.
This is a braised dish, no oven required. It goes together pretty quickly, but you’ll need to allow a couple hours for the stove-top braising. Serve it over your favorite pasta with some garlic bread and a nice chianti and you’ll feel like your dining in Nuevo Vesuvio back in Jersey with the rest of the Family.
Beef Braciole Recipe
- 1 pound boneless beef round steak or skirt (flank) steak
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- ¼ cup fresh-grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- salt and pepper
- thinly-sliced prosciutto enough to cover the pounded steak slices completely
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 4 cups tomato puree
- 4 fresh basil leaves chopped or torn to small pieces
- With a meat pounder (this one is my absolute favorite), flatten the steak pieces to about 1/4" thick, working them into a rectangular shape as much as possible (don't sweat this too much), then spread them out onto a flat surface.
- Rub the minced garlic into each piece. Using a garlic press for this step will make the garlic into a nice spreadable paste.
- Top the meat slices with the grated romano cheese, then cover each slice with the proscuitto.
- Roll the slices up and tie them with kitchen string. Cut the rolled meat into about 4" pieces.
- Flatten the garlic cloves by placing a chef's knife on them (flat side) and bringing your fist down on the flat side of the blade. Or use the meat pounder 🙂
- In a large skillet or wide saucepan (for which you have a tight-fitting lid), heat the olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the crushed garlic and rolled beef and cook, turning to brown them on all sides. If it gets a little too brown in areas, don't sweat it because 1) you're creating a nice fond and 2) the braising will soften it.
- Add the wine and simmer for just a few minutes. Remove the garlic and discard it.
- Turn the heat down to low, for the braising phase. Add the puree to the pan, along with the basil.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and braise over the low heat for 2 hours. Stir occasionally and turn the meat regularly. If the sauce gets too thick (remember, you want to use it as a sauce for the pasta), add a little water or, more preferably, beef broth.
- Serve it up over a bed of pasta, or serve the pasta on the side and lightly spoon some of the tomato sauce onto it. Top with freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan.