Beef braciole is a hearty and delicious Italian dish that will have you hooked on its rich flavors. The dish is a perfect example of home-style Italian food. It is comforting, saucy, rich, and just perfect for any season.
What is braciole
Beef Braciole is a traditional southern Italian dish that is perfect for Sunday lunch or dinner. The dish is made with two main components, beef roll-ups, and a rich tomato sauce.
This dish is said to have its roots in Naples. However, the origin is unclear. That’s because there are several variations all across the country.
For instance, the recipe I am sharing with you today is from Puglia, a southern region. While in Rome they’re called involtini and sometimes stuffed with ham.
The recipe is pretty much straightforward, is simply made with thin beef slices filled with Italian breadcrumbs, Parmigiano cheese, and fresh parsley.
The slices are then rolled up and secured with a toothpick. These beef rolls are then sautéed until they get a nice golden color.
The next main component is the deliciously rich tomato sauce. This sauce is made with traditional Italian flavors, such as passata, garlic, onion, oregano, and olive oil.
Once the sauce is ready, the roll-ups are placed in it and simmered on low heat for more than an hour or until the meat is so tender that you won’t need a knife to cut it.
- MEAT: Braciole roll-ups are made with thin slices of beef, veal, or pork. For this recipe, you can use flank or top round steak.
- TOMATO: We use tomato passata, either store-bought or homemade works fine.
- ONION: Chopped yellow or white onions add texture to the sauce and helps to balance out the acidity of tomato sauce.
- BREADCRUMBS: Use Italian breadcrumbs, Panko doesn’t work well in this recipe since is used for the filling and gets a bit soggy.
- PARMIGIANO: Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or use Parmesan if that is what’s available to you.
- PARSLEY: Fresh chopped parsley for stuffing the roll-ups.
- FLAVORS: Garlic, oregano, salt, and black pepper.
Beef Braciole Recipe
Pound the meat with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
Season with salt and pepper on both sides then place the slices onto a flat surface.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs, parmigiano cheese, and parsley on top of a slice of meat.
Carefully, roll up each slice into a tight roll, then secure with toothpicks the ends to prevent the filling from coming out during cooking.
Repeat the steps with all beef slices until the ingredients are gone.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large cooking pan. Add the braciole and cook on all sides until nicely browned.
Transfer the roll-ups onto a plate, cover them to prevent them from drying, and set them aside.
In the same pan, using the oil that was left, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
Stir in the tomato passata scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with the end of a spoon.
Add 2 cups of hot water (or beef stock) and then season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Bring to a boil and then return the braciole to the pan, making sure they’re almost covered by the sauce.
Set the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, mixing from time to time and adding more water if necessary.
Uncover the pan and allow the sauce to thick to your liking, adjust seasonings and turn off the heat.
Serve as suggested below or store for later. Before serving, remove the toothpicks.
Although this recipe is very close to how Beef Braciole Pugliesi is made traditionally, as you move across the region, you will find several variations as well.
Some variations include using spinach, raisins, and pine nuts as a filling. Others add salami or prosciutto in the filling.
Some even add red wine to the sauce to make it rich and bring in complexity of flavor. Whatever the variations you choose, this dish is a classic Italian loved by many.
How To Serve
If you are planning on making Beef Braciole for dinner and want to get a full Italian eating experience, here’s how you should serve them:
- The first course includes serving pasta tossed in the flavorful braciole tomato sauce. Orecchiette is the first option, but again, it depends on which region or zone you’re eating this traditional dish.
- The next and the main course include serving the beef roll-ups and the remaining sauce with sides of your choice. These sides include:
- Sautéed vegetables like funghi trifolati or cicoria alla Romana.
- Grilled vegetables like asparagus, peppers, or a platter of verdure grigliate.
- Roasted potatoes are always a nice option, especially if they are made in the Italian way with garlic and lots of rosemary.
In short, you can serve it with any side of your choice. This Italian beef braciole recipe is rich and flavorsome and goes well with almost any side dish.
How To Store
This traditional Italian dish is perfect to make ahead. You can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days in airtight containers or freeze it for up to 3 months for those busy nights.
To reheat, allow the beef braciole to thaw (if frozen) and then place it on a pan with a splash of water or beef stock to loosen up the sauce. Set heat to medium and reheat mixing once or twice.
More Italian Dishes
- Spezzatino (beef stew with potatoes).
- Stracotto (Roman-Jewish traditional beef stew)
- Coda alla Vaccinara (Roman-style oxtail stew)
Beef Braciole With Tomato Sauce
- 1 ½ lbs flank steak or beef top round steak (cut into 8 slices)
- 1 cup parmigiano cheese (grated)
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 4 Tbsp parsley (chopped)
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
For the tomato sauce
- 4 cups tomato passata
- ½ cup onion (chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Pound the meat with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
- Season with salt and pepper on both sides then place the slices onto a flat surface.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs, parmigiano cheese, and parsley on top of a slice of meat.
- Carefully, roll up each slice into a tight roll, then secure the ends with toothpicks
- Repeat with all beef slices.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the braciole on all sides until nicely browned.
- Transfer them onto a plate, cover, and set aside.
- In the same pan, using the oil that was left, add onions and sauté until translucent.
- Add garlic and sauté for a few seconds.
- Pour in the tomato passata and cook for 1 minute scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with the end of a spoon.
- Pour 2 cups of water and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Return the braciole to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Cook over low heat for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, mixing from time to time and adding more water if necessary.
- Uncover the pan and allow the sauce to thicken to your desired consistency.
- Adjust seasonings, turn off the heat and serve.
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.