It’s the holiday season, and Christmas is literally around the corner. I am hosting Christmas Day, and need to work on a menu, and finish my shopping. This time of the year is overwhelming for me, but there is a joyous feeling in the air, that goes with the madness of the season. I recently made a dish called: Braciole, pronounced brajole, or brashole, and is the plural for braciola. It is considered a thinly sliced of meat, stuffed with garlic, parsley, and salami or prosciutto. Most grocery stores have it pre-sliced, or you can have the butcher slice it for you. Some people use flank steak, but I always use top round. In Italy, this dish is called involtini, and the stuffing/filling can vary depending on the region. If you are still wondering what to make for Christmas, or your holiday dinner, this is the perfect and festive dish for you. It is a bit time-consuming, but the good news is, you can make it 1 or 2 days ahead of time. Please keep in mind, some people do not consume red meat, be sure to have chicken, fish and veggies grace your holiday table.
Serves: 9-12 for a seat-down dinner or 10-15 for buffet style dinner, served with other food. Level of difficulty: Medium-difficult Time from start to finish: 2.5 – 3 hours, depending how fast you do all your prepping.
Ingredients for the meat:
- Olive oil for pan frying
- 3 lbs. top round steak, thinly sliced
- 1 – 6 oz jar of peeled garlic, chopped *
- one large bunch of flat-leave parsley, chopped
- 1/3 lb. prosciutto, roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper *
- Butcher twine *
Preparation for the meat:
1) Place the meat on a butcher block, season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the seasonings lightly, depending on your sodium diet, on both sides of meat. Keep in mind, the prosciutto is salty. I recommend you use less than more. You can always add more later, but if it’s over salted, the food will be ruined. It’s hard for me to give you measurements, since I use my fingers to sprinkle the seasonings.
2) Next, with the tip of your fingers, grab some garlic, parsley, and prosciutto, one at a time, and place at the end of the meat, as shown on the picture. Roll it, like a jelly roll, and repeat the same process. You will work an assembly line, and use the butcher twine later.
3) Once, your meats are rolled up, it’s time to tie them up with the butcher twine, by securing both ends. There may be some leftovers, garlic, parsley, and prosciutto. Save to use in the sauce.
4) In a large pot, on medium high heat, heat up olive oil, Sear the meat on both sides to obtain a nice brown color, about 5-7 minutes. Do this in batches, and set aside.
Ingredients for the sauce:
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil, if necessary
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 container Pomi, chopped tomatoes
- 1 container Pomi, strained tomatoes
- 1 large jar of Mids, prepared tomato sauce, meatless*
- 1/4 cup of water, put in jar and shake it to get all the sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- pinch of sugar, optional
Preparation for the sauce: Using the same pot, add more oil, if necessary, brown the tomato paste, add all the tomatoes, water, leftover fillings, salt & pepper, sugar, and put the meat in the sauce. Bring to a boil, simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, uncovered, until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally, to make sure the pot doesn’t burn on the bottom. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add very little water, and continue cooking.
Pasta1) 2 lbs. of Rigatoni, or any pasta shape of your choice.
2) While the sauce is simmering, bring water to a boil for pasta. Add salt, and cook as per package directions, or al dente, to the bite.
3) Drain pasta, drizzle with olive and some sauce to prevent clumping. Set aside. The sauce should be done, and the meat tender by this time.
4)Remove the braciole from the sauce, and use a pair of shears to cut the twines. (You will need some patience, while I was doing this, my guests were having their salad.) Arrange them in a nice rectangle platter. This presentation is ideal for a seat-down dinner party like I had. Serve with the pasta. However for a buffet-style, or for a holiday table, slice them, and arrange them on a beautiful platter. It is more decorative, and appealing.
1) Some people use toothpicks to secure the meat, but I prefer using the twine.
2) Freshly ground pepper goes so nicely with the meat.
3) If you don’t want to use garlic from the jar, go ahead and use fresh, just allow more time for peeling. Nothing wrong with fresh ingredients, I actually encourage it, whenever possible.
4) Some recipes add cheese to the filling, but, I prefer grated Parmigiano Reggiano, (parmesan cheese), on top of the pasta.
5) This recipe yields 9 meat rolls, but, some people shared one. There were leftovers, and, it was even better the next day.
6) For a small dinner gathering, I recommend you ask your guests if they consume meat or shellfish. Let’s not forget about gluten-free pasta for those who cannot have regular pasta. This may create extra work, but if you are having guests, it’s important to accommodate their diet, and ensure they enjoy their meal.
Wine pairing suggestions: My lovely aunt and cousin were visiting from abroad, I decided to go all out. I paired this delectable dish with a Barolo, the king of Italian wines. The pairing was magical, and everyone was pleased with my culinary creation. You can also pair this dish with a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon of your choice. You want a big wine to stand up to the meat.
Recipe by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Images by Gina for Foodiewinelover
Wine pairing suggestions by Gina for Foodiewinelover
This will probably be my last post before Christmas, therefore, I would like to wish all of you, a happy holiday season, and a Merry Christmas from my home to yours.
In closing, I would like to share this quote: “Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given–when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes.”
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