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Family Secrets

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The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-American family - with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

This is a cookbook-in-process project. If you try any of these recipes please let us know how they turn out, whether or not you had any difficulties, and any clarifying improvements you might recommend to make them foolproof. We will of course acknowledge genuine "test-kitchen" assistance.


Family Secrets #44

Braciole

By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens


We offer this column in memoriam to our aunt, Elizabeth Giandomenico, who passed away February 22, 2000. She would have been 90 years of age in May. She was the last of the five sisters and one brother of Anna and Nicola Buzzelli. It was she and her husband, Ernest Antonio Giandomenico, who extended the family across the country when they moved to California in the 1940's. We will miss you Aunt Beth.
Every Sunday, summer or winter, we awoke to the wonderful aroma of a big pot of tomato sauce simmering on the back burner. After church our favorite breakfast was a slice of bread dipped into the simmering sauce and eaten while standing over the sink to catch the drips.

Mama always varied the meat she used in her sauce. Often it would be meatballs but occasionally she would treat us to braciole. These are savory little rolls of meat, stuffed and tied. The filling she used and her method of cooking them right in the pot of sauce never varied. They were always delicious but a little on the "chewy" side. Occasionally she served the braciole family style. She accomplished this by pounding a whole flank steak and stuffing and rolling the whole steak, stewing the whole piece in the sauce and then carving it into slices for the table. When she had more time and the occasion called for something a little fancier, she would make individual rolls.

Over the years we have experimented with different cuts of meat and have established two different recipes. Both are tasty and relatively inexpensive to make. The first recipe is the traditional one we grew up with. It is made with a beef flank steak, and stewed directly in the sauce. This method has the advantage of adding a meat flavor to your sauce, but results in a more boiled texture. The second is made with boneless pork cutlets and braised separately for a shorter period of time. The advantage is a shorter cooking time, and a more tender piece of meat with a finer texture. We use this method when we already have a sauce prepared.



Ernest Antonio (Tony) Giandomenico (1908-1979)
Son Anthony Giandomenico (1935- )
Elizabeth (Beth) Giandomenico nee Buzzelli (1910-2000)      Picture: 1935
Whichever recipe you decide to try, the method of preparing the meat is the same. For the beef you would purchase thin slices of boneless beef, either flank steak or sirloin tip slices. If purchasing pork you would look for a boneless thin sliced pork cutlet. Both would then be pounded with a meat mallet between two pieces of waxed paper until about 1/8" thick. This tenderizes them as well as enlarges them enough to roll.

The filling for the meat rolls can be as varied as your imagination. We offer you the traditional one that we grew up with and still use. You could use thin slices of prosciutto and fontina in place of the egg filling as one possible variation. Another might be chopped cooked greens layered with cheese.

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Traditional Stuffing for Braciole

Total ingredients to serve four:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbls. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup, more or less, seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one: Combine ingredients

Place the eggs in a small bowl and beat lightly. Add minced garlic, grated parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh parsley. Mix well.

Step two: Finish the stuffing

Slowly drizzle in the seasoned bread crumbs while mixing constantly. Use only enough bread crumbs to bring the mixture to a soft, spreadable paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt because of the amount of parmesan cheese that is already in the stuffing.

Beef Braciole

Total ingredients to serve four:

  • 1 lb piece of beef flank steak or slices of thin cut round steak
  • 1 batch of traditional stuffing mix
  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step one: Prepare the beef

Place the meat between 2 pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until it is 1/8 inch thick and roughly rectangular in shape.

Step two: Stuff the braciole

Lightly brush the meat with olive oil. Season it lightly with salt and pepper. Spread the batch of traditional stuffing mix evenly over the surface of the meat. Leave 1/2 inch around the perimeter open. Tightly roll up the braciole longways. Tie both ends with a small piece of coarse kitchen string. Make several more ties every 3 inches over the length of the braciole.

Step three: Cook the braciole 

Lightly brown the braciole in the sauce pot when you start the red sauce, or brown lightly in a sauté pan and then add to red sauce. Stew for the 3 hours it takes to complete the sauce. When done, gently remove the cooked braciole and place on a cutting board. Remove the kitchen strings and slice on the diagonal. Serve with pasta.

Pork Braciole

Total ingredients to serve four:

  • 8 pieces of boneless pork loin or pork chops, 2 to 3 ounces each
  • 1 batch of traditional stuffing mix
  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup red sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Step one: Prepare the pork loin

Place each piece of the meat between 2 pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet until it is 1/8 inch thick and rectangular in shape.

Step two: Stuff the pork braciole

Lightly brush the meat with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the batch of traditional stuffing mix into 8 portions. Spread each piece of pounded pork with a portion of the stuffing mix. Leave about 1/4 inch space around the perimeter of each piece. Tie both ends of each piece with a small piece of kitchen string. Make one additional tie in the center of each piece.

Step three: Cook the braciole

Lightly brown each piece in a sauté pan in a little olive oil. Place the browned pieces in a casserole dish. Place the red sauce, chicken stock, red wine and rosemary in a small bowl and mix well. Pour the braising liquid over the braciole in the casserole dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, place in preheated 225 degree oven, and braise slowly for two hours. When done, remove from braising liquid and remove the kitchen string from each piece. Serve 1 or 2 pieces, whole or cut in half, with a little of the braising liquid drizzled over the meat. Accompany with pasta.

Altitude Adjustment: None.


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Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Written Permission
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, Tel: 575-586-2286

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