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Friday, March 12, 2010

Braciole at lightening speed

Braciole... what the heck is that! Well, let me tell you. Braciole (pronounced braw chawl) is an Italian dish of thin beef or veal wrapped around a filling and baked in wine and tomato sauce. Did I get your attention? Sounds great, doesn't it?

The major problem with making this dish is that it takes a small army and all day to prepare it. First of all, that counts me out immediately. Secondly, it sends me back in time... back to where the level of chaos in my house was at an all time low. Back to where I had the time to spend reading different recipes and not having a matchbox car driven by two year old fingers all over the pages. No one was screaming. There were no battles for attention. No snacks, no runny noses, no songs about going potty... just me and my cookbook...

But there were also no wide eyed smiles, no tugging on my pant leg, no chubby bodies with little dents in the wrists and knees. There were no tiny cuddles and squeals of delight. I must admit, sometimes I long for the days of me and my cookbook, but I'll take the latter any day. Being a new mother (again) is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.

So in the best interest of my children, I have taken the traditional braciole recipe and cut the prep and cooking time considerably. The essence of the recipe is still there. The intense manual labor is not. With a few short cuts, you'll have an incredible, Italian delight on your table in about 30 minutes.

What you'll need:
1 piece of grass fed sirloin tip steak per serving
2 cloves garlic, minced
pine nuts
ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper (or you can buy roasted red peppers in the jar)
1 bag of spinach
strips of sun dried tomato in olive oil
1 cup of red wine
1 large can crushed tomato
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

What you do:

Start by roasting your red pepper on the open flame of your stove. Lay the pepper directly on the flame and wait for the skin to blister and turn black. Turn it until all sides are blackened and the pepper is soft. Put the blackened pepper in a paper sack and close it tightly. Remember to make sure your pepper is not on fire before placing it in the bag... it's kind of hard to explain yourself out of that one. Let the pepper sit in the bag for 10 minutes. Rip open the bag and slide your hand over the surface of the pepper to peel the blackened skin off. Cut off the top and bottom ends of the pepper, slice it open and cut out the seed pod. Go ahead... take a little bite. This glorious flavor is what a freshly roasted red pepper tastes like. Admit it, it's heaven.

Next you'll want to pound the steaks to about 1/4" thickness. Lay out a piece of flattened steak. Put some pepper on it. Divide the minced garlic up evenly among the steaks and press the garlic into the steak. Sprinkle a few pine nuts over the steak and press them into the meat. Now lay a slice of that glorious roasted pepper over the steak. Things are getting interesting, aren't they. Next goes a small handful of spinach followed by a few strips of sun dried tomato. Roll that baby up the best you can and secure it with toothpicks.

Get a heavy skillet hot with olive oil and brown the rolled meat on all sides quickly. Remove the meat to a plate. Next put in your cup of wine. Notice the wine bottle has about three more cups in it. What ever will you do with all that luscious wine? Resist the urge to conceal it in a brown paper bag while slumping down in your kitchen like a derelict. It will go really well with the dinner when it's done. Just another 30 minutes... you can do it. Reduce the wine on high heat until about 1/2 a cup remains. Add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powders. Give it a stir. You may want to hold on to the side of the stove before smelling this broth. It's quite possible you will loose consciousness from the awe-inspiring aroma.

Once you have your broth mixed together place the meat back in the pan and spoon some broth over the meat. Cover it and turn the flame down low. Leave it for ten minutes and then turn the meat over. Baste it, cover it, and let it go another ten minutes.

Serve this beautiful dish with a nice green veggie and don't forget the wine. You wouldn't want it to go to waste now, would you?


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