Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beef Braciole

Love this recipe. It's from Mario Batali's Italian Grill. This is a summarized version. I highly recommend getting a hold of the book for the full effect.

2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
4 oz salami
8 oz Italian Fontina
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, toasted
1/4 cup + 3 TB olive oil
2 1/2-3 lbs beef, butterflied (see notes)
sea salt and pepper to taste
kitchen twine

Slice fontina into 1/4 inch cubes and salami into 1/4 inch matchsticks. Combine first 7 ingredients and mix well. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and mix with hands. Set aside. Cut at least 6 pieces of twine, as needed. Open beef, season on both sides with salt and pepper, and spread crumb mixture evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch border on one long side. Press and gently pack the stuffing onto the beef to keep it in place. Roll up the meat like a cinnamon roll with the non-filled border as the outside edge. Tie tightly with the twine, spacing the ties evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat pan or grill. Unwrap roll and slice into 6 thick pinwheels (slice between each twine). Brush gently on both sides with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay gently on hot pan or grill and don't move for 5-7 minutes. Turn carefully with a spatula and cook about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. Don't be concerned with the charred cheesy-gooey crust - that's part of the effect. Remove twine and serve.

Beef notes: Batali's recipe calls for a tenderloin roast "cut from the heart of the tenderloin" but he also notes that it's traditionally made with slices of top round "or a similar cut". We've done it with tenderloin, top round, and eye of round and they've all turned out really well. While tenderloin is always fantastic, this is a great recipe to dress up those cheaper cuts of meat with and still have something spectacular to serve. To butterfly the meat, "simply use a sharp knife to cut it horizontally almost but not all the way in half, starting from one of the long sides, so you can open it out like a book." And feel free to pound the cheaper cuts of meat a bit, if desired.

More notes: We usually have leftover filling from this recipe. It makes delicious grilled cheese and salami sandwiches. Also, the pictured braciole was a 1/3 recipe to use the 1 lb of grass-fed eye of round I got from Azure Standard this month. And please note that Italian Fontina should be a stinky cheese. This recipe varies in flavor greatly depending on the quality of salami and fontina that you use. We've used grocery store-quality regular fontina (very mild - not stinky) and it still turns out really well - but the higher quality Italian specialty store-quality fontina and salami really make a big difference in the final product.

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