With food prices climbing faster than our pay, weíre all searching for ways to afford to eat.
Italian family cooks are experts at stretching a food budget. Itís in their history.
They give us braciole or braciola, the best thing thatís happened to a little bit of beef. Six bucksí worth will feed a family.
This genius dish comprises thin slices of beef breaded and rolled ó jellyroll fashion.
Theyíre browned in olive oil and simmered in beef broth or tomato sauce until tender.
Youíre eating very little beef, usually about five ounces, but it is filling (served with pasta). And, by some miracle, it seems like a lot more beef than it really is.
You can find thin-sliced beef braciole at meat counters. Thin veal scaloppini also works well.
The beef is not the best, so it must be pounded to tenderize. Here itís similar to Swiss steak.
You pound the bread crumbs and grated cheese into it. Then roll it and tie with string.
Thereís an opportunity to take the braciole beyond the Italian style by adding a stuffing. It could be as simple as a downsized version of your favorite turkey stuffing.
Try canned, smoked oysters chopped with a little garlic and basil and smear it on the flattened beef in a thin layer.
The simmering over medium heat takes about 45 minutes. Test for tenderness with a toothpick.
The beef richly flavors your tomato sauce, ready for any manner of pasta. If using broth, add a bit of flour and water to thicken into a gravy, excellent on mashed potatoes.
Braciole gets the most out of a cheap piece of beef. Itís a dish born of necessity that has become a culinary masterpiece.
Reach Jim at 330-580-8324 or jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com. On Twitter: @jhillibishREP
2 slices braciole (beef or veal)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon basil
4 cups tomato sauce
Mix bread crumbs, basil, parmesan cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Coat both sides of each meat slice and pound thinly with a tenderizing hammer. Add a thin layer of the stuffing of your choice if wanted. Roll the slices lengthwise, jelly-roll fashion, and secure with two ties of string.
Brown lightly in olive oil. Add tomato sauce and spoon over the rolls. Cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 45 minutes.
Pour the sauce over pasta and serve with the beef.
Serves 2.