In the Kitchen with Grandma and Granpa: An Introduction to Braciole

by Laura on January 31, 2010

in Traditions

We love when Grandma and Grandpa visit. The kids are in heaven, climbing all over Grandpa, playing Suduko with him, and gathering ‘specimens’ to investigate under the microscope. Grandma always shows up with an extra piece of luggage filled with arts and crafts supplies. The kids are so anxious to see what is inside, that they ask her to empty it out all within the first hour of her arrival.

Greg and I love their visit too. Especially when they find their way into the kitchen. Grandma is eager to create her grandkids their favorite sweets, and Grandpa is always ready to prepare some of his favorite meals – with Grandma by his side.

Only a few days into their visit, we’ve already enjoyed some Oatmeal Scotchies cookies, a shrimp and sausage paella, and our newest favorite – braciole.

That evening the kitchen was busy. There they were, pounding out the meat, laying prosciutto on top, sautéing spinach, red peppers and onions, hard-boiling eggs and working alongside each other like they do almost every evening at home.

As I hovered in the kitchen, just out of the way of the cooking storm, I scribbled notes on their progress:

Granpa took the Top Sirloin and pounded it flat. He then, brushed the surface with olive oil, and placed on piece of prosciutto on top. Meanwhile, Grandma sautéed an onion and garlic, and spread some on top. Next, it was sautéed and sliced red pepper, followed by sliced hard-boiled eggs. The meat, with all the fixings, was then rolled up and fastened with kitchen twine and a few toothpicks. (Granpa was the one directing this part – using his knowledge in engineering!).

The rolled braciole was placed in a sauté pan and the meat was braised for a few minutes. After which they placed the pan in the oven (350-375 degrees F), and cooked until the beef was tender. Afterwards, Mom reduced the sauce from the pan, adding just a bit of water, until a delicious sauce was made.

All this activity brought the kids into the kitchen time and again. They kept asking, oh, what’s that?

With the spotting of the spinach, onions and peppers brought a few furrowed brows to their faces, so we opted to all-meat version for the kids (meat and prosciutto). It was an exercise that would surely reduce the number of complaints when dinner was set on their plates, and would hopefully increase the likelihood of them eating the meal.

If they did want to try the braciole with all the fixings, we would be able to oblige. Granpa is known for making more food than we could ever need for three meals.

By the time dinner was ready, the house smelled wonderful, and the kids were excited about dinner. Turns out, Grayson decided to be the adventurous one. He loved it and kept asking for more. The others, made due with what they were given on their plate, with little objection. As for Greg, he had no problem with the meal – and for that matter, neither did I.

I’ve had braciole served to me a handful of times, and I believe that this was Greg’s first time, but there is no doubt that we will add this to our favorite recipes book. Next time around, all I’ll need to do is reach in the freezer. Thanks to Granpa, we’ve enough for two more meals!

For those of you whom need a bit more structure than Grandma and Granpa’s on-the-fly recipe. Here is one from my most-used cookbook, The Joy of Cooking


Four ¼-inch-thick slices rum, bottom round, or top round steak, 4- ounces each.

1.  Using the flat side of a cleaver, pound the slices about 1/8-inch thick, taking care not to tear the meat. Trim any excess fat and pat dry. Season lightly with:

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs from day-old bread
  • 4 ozs ground beef, veal or pork
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chipped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup finely chipped prosciutto, dry salami, or hot or mild dry coppa
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallots, onions or scallions
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

2.  Lay the meat slices out flat and season with:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

3.  Spread evenly with the stuffing, leaving at least 1-inch border all around. Roll up, tucking in the sides, and forming a tight, neat packet. Tie securely with strong, crosswise and lengthwise. Dredge the rolls with:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

4.  Shake off the excess. Heat in a large, heavy skillet with a lid over medium-high heat:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

5.  Add the meat packets and brown carefully on all sides. Remove the rolls with a slipped spoon and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add to the pan:

  • ¼ cup finely chopped onions
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

6.  Cover and cook the vegetables over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add:

  • ½ cup beef stock
  • ½ cup dry red or white wine
  • ½ cup tomato puree or 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

7.  Bring to a boil and return beef rolls to the pan. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beef is fork-tender, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove the rolls to a platter and keep warm. Skim off the fat from the surface of the liquid. Reduce, if necessary, over high heat just until it turns syrupy. Season with:

8.  Salt and ground black pepper to taste

9.  Remove the strings from the rolls and cut into 1-inch slices or leave whole. Pour the sauce over the meat.

10. Serve with:

Soft polenta with butter and cheese, buttered noodles or pasta, or risotto

Source: The Joy of Cooking

Serves: 4



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