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Saturday
Dec012012

Braciole with Flank Steak & Spinach

Coming from an Italian family I have tried many different types of dishes sitting in my great-grandmothers kitchen growing up. The smell of her tomato sauce she made every Sunday filling every room of that old farm house, or the sight of her meatballs that were almost the size of my head (or so I thought at that age). As far back as I can remember, I tasted everything she ever made in that kitchen. That was the only beauty of them not having much money. Everything was picked from their garden, and the meat came from the farm animals my grandfather would butcher. Out of all of those recipes, I never once heard the term braciole pass my ears. I couldn’t even tell you why as my grandfather remembers her making it all the time. When he and I sat down one day discussing all his memories of his mother’s cooking, he mentioned her braciole. Honestly, I had no idea what he was talking about even though I have heard the term before. Once he explained it to me, I had to come up with my own. Stuffed steak simmered in white wine and tomato sauce? It sounded like a masterpiece and I needed it in my belly. Hopefully I did Grandma Ellie proud.

Ingredients: Serves 2

5oz Fresh Baby Spinach

¼ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

2 Minced Garlic Clove

1 Cup Grated Parmesan Reggiano

4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Split

1 cup dry white wine

4 Cups Homemade Red Sauce, or store bought

2 8oz flank steaks

Salt and Pepper

Butchers Twine

So many of the braciole recipes out there use ground beef or ground sausage, but I could not pass up honoring my great-grandmothers way of using flank steak. Plus I just love steak anyways. Also I found that many recipes only fill their braciole with bread crumbs and cheese. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE cheese, and I do not think I could ever live without bread, but I needed to spice it up. If you have been reading my previous posts I have recently been on a spinach kick which is unusual because I do not like spinach. Not even a little bit, but I think this has become a challenge for me. In a 2qt pot heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil with the fresh minced garlic until the garlic becomes opaque. Add the spinach and leave uncovered while you toss to coat. Now unlike some of the other recipes I have on here with spinach, you do not want to cook down the spinach completely. Since the flank steak will be stuffed, seared, and then baked you do not want over cooked spinach. When the leaves still retain some of their shape but have decreased in volume by half you are set. Once you remove the spinach from the heat, toss in the bread crumbs and stir to incorporate.

Lay out the two flank steaks on a flat surface and divide your spinach mixture between the two leaving about ½ an inch on all sides free from the mix. Sprinkle your parmesan reggiano on top of the spinach. Now comes the hard part. If you have never had to wrap meat with butchers twine, try not to wing it. Honestly I did at first and got very fed up with myself. There is a great video on how to do it here http://video.about.com/italianfood/Italian-Braciole-Stuffed-Steak.htm but any good cook book or culinary manual will have a step by step also.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Season the steak on all sides lightly with salt and pepper. There are very few things I will consider that the “old school” method is the best, but I agree that a great cut of meat is best seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet, preferably non-stick which I still need to buy, over medium heat with the remaining olive oil. Sear each side of the braciole for 2 minutes each side. Add the white wine and bring it to a boil. Once the wine begins to boil add your red sauce.  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven on the middle rack for thirty minutes. Flip the braciole and baste with the sauce and continue to cook for thirty more minutes. Uncover the braciole and continue to cook for thirty minutes after basting once more. This cooking time will give you a medium rare steak. There are a vast amount of recipes that say to cook the braciole to well, but if that is right then I don’t mind being wrong. Once your desired temperature has been reached, remove from the oven and lay the steak on a cutting board. Remove the butchers twine and slice the steak into ½ inch pinwheels. Fan the braciole across a plate and pour the sauce over top. This is now not only an inclusion in my leather bound recipe book, but one of my favorite comfort foods. A thank you goes out to my late Grandma Ellie for the challenge. Love you Gramma.

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