What are known as braciole in the United States are called involtini in Italy. Involtini can be thin slices of beef, pork, or chicken rolled with a filling of grated cheese (usually Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano), sometimes egg to give consistency and some combination of additional ingredients such as bread crumbs, other cheeses, minced prosciutto, ham or Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic, spinach, pinoli (pine nuts), etc. Involtini (diminutive form of involti) means “little bundles”. Each involtino is held together by a wooden toothpick, and the dish is usually served (in various sauces: red, white, etc.) as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to toss the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal.
In southern parts of Italy such as Sicily, where fish are a more plentiful element of cuisine, involtini can sometimes be made with fish such as swordfish.
In Italian American and Italian Australian cuisine, braciole (the word is commonly pronounced /bra’zhul/ from the Sicilian language) is the name given to thin slices of meat (typically pork, chicken, beef, or swordfish) that are rolled as a roulade with cheese and bread crumbs and fried (the bread crumbs are often left off). In Sicilian, this dish is also called bruciuluni and farsumagru; the former is an older name used among Sicilian-Americans in Kansas City and New Orleans, and the latter term is Italianized as falsomagro.
Involtini can be cooked along with meatballs and Italian sausage in a Neapolitan ragù or tomato sauce, which some call sarsa or succu (Sicilian), or ‘Sunday gravy’ in some areas of the northeastern United States. They can also be prepared without tomato sauce. There exist many variations on the recipe, including variations of cheese and the addition of vegetables, such as eggplant. Braciole are not exclusively eaten as a main dish, but also as a side dish at dinner, or in a sandwich at lunch.
After being stuffed and rolled, involtini are often tied with string or pinned with wooden toothpicks to hold in the stuffing. After pan-frying to brown, the rolls of meat are placed into the sauce to finish cooking, still secured with string or toothpicks. In informal settings, the string is left on when the meat is served, and everybody removes their own string as they eat (toothpicks are best removed before serving).
We here in America use the generic term “Braciole” /bra’zhul/ for this dish, and will refer to it as such throughout the rest of this recipe.
There are a lot of different cuts of meat you can use for Braciole, some like Eye Round because of the uniform size, it makes the slices pretty much all the same. But you can use Top Round if you like. Can also make them out of good sirloin and if you truly wanted to impress even Filet Mignon. Some stores sell braciole meat already cut thin and pounded, feel free to use this if you can find it!
1 1/2 – 2 lbs of eye round, top round or flank steak, trimmed and pounded flat into approx. 8 portions
1 lb ground hamburg
1 lb ground italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot to preference)
16 slices of cooked ham from deli
8 slices provolone or mozzarella
1/2 c Grated Romano Cheese
16 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 oz of baby spinach (or small bag of frozen thawed and drained)
4 large sweet peppers, chopped
4 hot peppers, chopped (optional)
2 large onions, chopped
season to taste:
egg wash (beaten egg and milk)
flour (1 cup with salt and pepper)
Seasoned bread crumbs (2 cups)
10 oz sliced mushrooms, sauteed (optional)
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 jar of Marinara or favorite tomato sauce
re-season to tastes
Filling: In a large skillet, saute the peppers, onion and spinach over medium heat till starting to caramelize and the moisture in the spinach reduced. Set aside in a dish and cover till we are filling the braciole.
Combine the ground beef and sausage in a bowl and set aside. Lay out cheese, eggs, and ham slices, as well, when ready to fill your braciole.
The Sauce: combine sauce ingredients and refrigerate till ready to bake your braciole.
The Steak: first you want to trim any excess fat, grizzle from what ever cut of meat you do use. Now slice the meat, against the grain, just like you would cut it if it was a roast. You are going to pound out these slices, and while there isn’t any rule for the size, its always nice for them to be consistent. The slice shouldn’t be much more than a 1/4 of an inch. (of course if your market carries thinly sliced pounded Braciole meat, by all means skip this step!!) We will be making Braciole for 4, 2 Braciole per person. You need to use a meat hammer and pound the steak thin, this will also help tenderized the meat, your meat hammer should have a ridged side that helps with the tenderizing. As you pound the steaks, don’t just pound straight down, you need to hold the piece and almost push it outwards as you hit the meat trying to stretch it as you pound. Once all your pieces are pounded you can begin to assemble your Braciole.
Assemble Your braciole: while stuffing the steak, be generous with fillings, but not so much than they cannot be rolled properly, as you tuck in the meat you want to try and close the ends in. If they don’t close all the way, its not the end of the world, some of the cheese will ooze out during baking which is fine. I like to shape the braciole into small football shapes (or roll in plastic like a roulade) .
Spread a layer of the pepper and spinach mixture equally over each piece of meat. Then lightly press on a layer of the ground meat mixture equally as well. Now lay on the ham slices, then cheese slices, and 4 halved eggs on each piece of steak. Roll trying to keep ends tucked, and tie or pin with toothpicks (or use the roulade method, which works quite well and helps with advance preparation). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
If Breading Your braciole: In separate bowls have flour seasoned with salt and pepper, an egg wash ( beaten egg with milk), and seasoned bread crumbs (your own or store bought). First dredge the steak in the seasoned flour (this is a good time to help reshape the braciole if needed, the flour will help you close it up a little more), then in the egg wash, and then in the seasoned bread crumbs. Repeat till all the braciole are breaded. Lightly brown each side in olive oil before placing in oven.
Add some prepared sauce to bottom of pan, place braciole in sauce, if NOT BREADED cover braciole with additional sauce and some of the grated cheese. Place in oven for 20-30 mins depending on your oven.
Serve with additional sauce on the side and ENJOY!!
We hope you relish your delicious Braciole brought to you by Tasty Farmer!