The first time I heard about braciole was in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. I had no idea what it was, but I figured, if Debra could make it, it couldn’t be too hard! So I did a little research. It turns out braciole is made from a very tenderized flank steak, and stuffed with all kinds of yummy ingredients; it seems everyone has their own recipe and their own version of the stuffing. Then, it’s rolled, like a sandwich wrap, secured with butcher twine, quickly seared on all sides and then braised in sauce for a few hours. It’s the kind of meal you want to make on a weekend or for a special occasion; it requires at least an hour of prep time and it cooks for a minimum of two hours, but it’s worth it!
Ingredients for the sauce:
- 4 6oz can tomato paste
- 24oz water (fill up the 4 empty cans of tomato paste)
- Seasonings to taste – I used below:
- 3 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 Tablespoon honey
- 2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Ingredients for the stuffing:
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup millet flour
- Pinch of salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 Tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon thyme
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- 1 Tablespoon rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon parsley
Ingredients for the meat:
- 1lb flank steak, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoon butter
- Butcher twine
The first few times I made braciole, it was good, but it wasn’t the best. My first time, I did not tenderize the meat enough. It’s very important to not skip that step; braciole is only good if it’s really tender. My second time, the meat was very tender, but I didn’t have a crockpot or an oven dish with a lid, so I had to make an aluminum tent on top of my pan, which I of course failed at. All the sauce evaporated and the braciole was really dry. These were my biggest mistakes. So remember, tenderize and use a crockpot!
Alright, the first step is to make your tomato sauce. It’s pretty straight forward, just mix all the ingredients for the sauce together. Adjust the seasonings to your liking. Pour the sauce in a crockpot, cover it and turn it on at the lowest setting.
Most bracioles recipes I have looked at use bread crumbs in the stuffing. I’ve made it with gluten-free bread crumbs before, but let’s face it; if you buy the bread crumbs, it’s expensive and if you make bread yourself, you would probably rather eat it than make crumbs out of it. So instead, I decided to replace my bread crumbs with pancake crumbs. Mix all the flour and starches together, add a pinch of salt. Mix in one egg and about half a cup of milk. You can use a little more or a little less, depending on how you like the consistency. It should yield about 4 pancakes. Use about half a tablespoon of butter per pancake in the pan and cook, on medium high heat, around 2 minutes per side.
Break down your pancakes, by hand, in small pieces. Don’t fuss over them too much, it’ll all go in the food processor anyway. Add the broken down pancake crumbs, 2 eggs, the parmesan cheese, the garlic and all the herbs, to the food processor. Pulse until you get a well combined paste.
Now, to the meat! Tenderize the flank steak and season it with salt and pepper on both sides. Some cuts can be thinner than others. I bought a pound of flank steak for this recipe and it was 6 very thin layers.
When that’s done, spread the paste mixture evenly on the steak. Make sure you use the right amount and have enough for all the bracioles.
The next step is to roll it up tightly like a sleeping bag and secure the ends with butcher twine, to make sure it stays rolled up while cooking. This was really overwhelming the first few times I made bracioles, because I didn’t really know how to proceed. But here’s the trick: you don’t need to be fancy.
When all the bracioles have been tied up, it’s time to quickly sear them to give them a nice brown color. Melt butter in a pan on medium high heat and add your bracioles to it. Sear on all sides.
All that’s left to do is to put the bracioles in your crockpot. The tomato sauce should be hot by now so don’t burn yourself. Cook on low heat for two to three hours. Before serving, make sure you get rid of the butcher twine. This is a great meal to serve with pasta since there is so much tomato sauce.
I hope this braciole recipe has inspired you, especially to make your own stuffing. You can get really creative with trying different combinations.
The next time I make it, I’m thinking about mixing some fresh basil and raisins in there. What would you stuff it with?