This dish comes to us courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis of FoodTV fame. You may have noticed that I rarely, if ever, cook food that I picked up from a TV show. That’s mostly due to the fact that the abundance of food tv these days is food as blood sport, not food you’d ever necessarily want to cook and serve your family and friends. That’s not to say I don’t watch the competitive stuff, in fact I loved watching my friend Jody Adams compete on Top Chef Masters last season, and regularly tune into other Top Chef series’ when they air. I also have to admit to being a sucker for any Gordon Ramsey show, you know, like “Hell’s Kitchen” or “The F Word”. I think part of the appeal of Ramsey’s shows for me is a little game I play in my head as I watch, trying to gauge whether I think I could survive his tirades without throwing a dish at his head.
As far as good-old-fashioned “instructional” food tv, Giada has one of my favorite shows. As a fellow alum of Le Cordon Bleu – Paris (no, we weren’t classmates, she was there just before I was), she has earned a special spot in my heart, and the fact that she cooks homestyle Italian reminiscent of my mom’s cooking, doesn’t hurt either. In fact this braised beef dish, braciole, was in my mom’s regular rotation, though hers was prepared a bit differently. The next time Nonni’s in town, we’ll have to cook it together so that I can post the recipe here for you all to see the difference.
In short, my mom’s recipe called for pounding steaks quite thin, sprinkling them with an herb mix, rolling them into a pinwheel shape, and then braising them in a marinara sauce. Giada’s is different in that she calls for seasoning and entire flank or skirt steak, then rolling, searing and braising. Her dish is portioned when you cut the steak at service, as opposed to my mom’s which takes a little more up-front work.
Boris and I dressed, tied and braised two of these lovelies to feed the gang the other night, and also made a quick batch of Giada’s marinara to use as a braising medium. The end result….molto benne!
- 1/2 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs (we used panko and they were great)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 1/3 cup grated provolone
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 1/4 cups Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce
Simple Tomato Sauce:
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 4 to 6 basil leaves
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
- Stir the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Lay the flank steak flat on the work surface. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the steak to cover the top evenly. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak as for a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle the braciole with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake until the meat is almost tender, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce every 30 minutes. After 1 hour, uncover and continue baking until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes longer. The total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the braciole from the sauce. Using a large sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer the slices to plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve.
Simple Tomato Sauce:
- In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.
- Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
- If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.
- Yield: 6 cups