Friday, June 13, 2008

Braised Involtino

I wasn't quite sure what to call this dish, but whatever its name, it is definitely a roulade. I still have a lot of that tomato sauce to use up, and have made this recipe in the past for friends with great success.

The reason for the confusion in the name - in Italian American cooking, a braciola is essentially what I've made. However, in Italian cuisine, a braciola is just a thin piece of meat fried in its own juices with a bit of olive oil. On the other hand, in Italian cooking, involtini pretty much look like what I've made, but they are normally pan-fried, not braised. That's why I decided to mix and match, then settled on calling this a braised involtino.

It's pretty easy to put together, and can be impressive when served showing the spiral. I ended up serving this with some leftover pasta and a simple salad.

1 1/2 lb. flank steak
2 large eggs
bread crumbs (varying amount)
parmesan (varying amount)
1 handful basil
1/2 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
tomato sauce

Flatten the flank steak with a mallet. To help get it flat, place on top of a piece of saran wrap, spray lightly with water, then top with another piece of saran wrap before starting to whack at it. This step, along with making your strokes go into outward angles instead of coming straight down, will help spread the meat evenly (the saran wrap decreases friction for your angled hits). Take your time so the meat flattens evenly - you don't want any holes in the meat. Optimally, you can get the meat to an even 1/4-inch thickness.

Mix the eggs together, then slowly add bread crumbs until it reaches about the same consistency as cookie dough. Spread this layer onto the meat, leaving a small gap at the top so the final roll can close completely. Grate the parmesan, then sprinkle on top - as much or as little as you want. Follow this with a layer of fresh basil, then onions and garlic.

Roll as tightly as you can, then tie up with some butcher's twine, being sure that both ends are tightly sealed. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask the butcher for some twine, and I never got around to buying any, so I just rolled it up and let it be. If you have it all wrapped up and tied, you can sear the meat to add some flavor.

I cut the meat in half so I could fit it into a small baking dish, but if you can, try to avoid this - it's always better to leave it whole until the end.

Place into a baking dish, then cover liberally with tomato sauce until the dish is almost full. Top with a tented piece of foil. Bake at 350ºF and braise until done inside. You can leave the involtino in for extra time without much damage, but continue to spoon tomato sauce on top so the meat doesn't dry out. I have no clue when mine was complete (my probe thermometer died on me), but I baked it for approximately 2 hours, spooning sauce on top about every 10 minutes.

When the meat is done, remove it from the sauce, then use this sauce in the pasta being served alongside it. Let the meat sit for 30 minutes before cutting it into thin slices. If you feel it needs extra sauce served with it, spoon the sauce on the bottom of the plate and then place the spirals on top - you don't want to cover the spirals with sauce, or it just looks like any other cut of meat.


Elle said...

I can't even begin to tell you how much I want that! It looks amazing!

enza said...

ok let me explain.
as you know most of italy people who went in america are from the south.
in the south braciola is the same of "involtino"a thiny steack rolled with a filling so italian american cooking has derived this name based on the fact that italian-american people are from south (sicily, campania, calabria...)
As you know a live in the middle, in rome but I'm from sicily.
so when I came here I heard for the first time braciole and I was thinking about a rolled steack...and I had a pieace of meat, no filling, oh no...
so this is the main misunderstanding but your result is great.