You may not know what Braciole is, as it’s not commonplace on Americanized Italian menus. In fact, I’m calling it: braciole is one of the most underrated Italian dishes of all time. But out of all the Italian dishes under the sun, it really is one of my favorites. Up there right along with Osso Bucco (a dish you may be more familiar with). So when the temperature drops and I spend more and more time indoors, I focus my energy towards cooking. Lots and lots of cooking.
Growing up, when my dad would make a Sunday feast, he would make enough meat to feed an army. Braciole, sausage, and meatballs would simmer in a gigantic pot the size of a small child all day long. Boil up some pasta – boom, let’s eat.
Osso Bucco was traditionally made with veal shanks, and a more ‘special occasion’ dinner. It’s one of those dishes you can distinctly taste as soon as you think about it. Now cooking any cut of meat in tomato sauce for hours will be delicious, but Osso Bucco gets so much flavor from the bone and marrow that it really is extra special and unlike many braised meat dishes out there. Just don’t forget to keep a few mini spoons in your cutlery drawer for this occasion 😉
While I love veal, I try to eat it less these days, so I was very excited when Brick Farm Market had beef shanks in their case. I cooked the grass-fed beef long enough to where it was just as tender and flavorful as veal. I’ve had it in restaurants before where beef shanks were just so-so, so I just assumed it had to be made with veal. But I am here to tell you, friend, that this is not the case.
Some people might hear these dishes and become instantly intimidated. But they are actually very easy that I want to share the recipes with you and encourage you to make them at home. If you can chop some vegetables and sear some meat, you can make these dishes! The braciole is a great Sunday supper dish (especially when paired with big beautiful meatballs!) to have before the winter is over. And I would highly recommend trying the Osso Bucco for a Valentine’s Day home-cooked meal worthy of your hottest date.
To make these dishes extra special, use as many artisanal, small batch and local ingredients as possible. Even down to the tomato sauce! Especially down to the tomato sauce. Think you can’t enjoy Jersey tomatoes year round? First Field has changed that with their amazing crushed tomatoes. And Osso Bucco is nothing without it’s famous counterpart: risotto Milanese. I made mine with the one and only Blue Moon Acres New Jersey grown, Certified Organic Maratelli rice. You can find the recipe here! And I love seeing more and more that these local makers ship their products, so no matter where you’re reading this from, you can enjoy these delicious NJ made/grown products.
2lbs beef bottom round*
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
½ cup bread crumbs
10 slices of paper-thin Proscuitto
½ cup grated Parmigiano Regiano
¼ cup golden raisins (optional)
Splash of milk
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of chicken stock
Combine your toasted pine nuts, Italian parsley, golden raisins, and parmigiano cheese in a small bowl and moisten a bit with a splash of milk.
Pound your beef as thin as you can without it breaking apart. Season it with salt and layer on a slice of prosciutto, and spread a layer of the bread crumb mixture onto the meat, avoiding the edges.
Tightly roll up your beef and secure it with butcher string at the ends and in the middle.
Heat olive oil over medium heat and sear braciole rolls on all sides.
Pour in your crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of chicken stock. Simmer on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes to prevent the meat from sticking.
*I used bavette steak, but I would recommend a beef is easy to pound thin. Some butchers will prepare thin cuts of braciole meat for you if you can call ahead.
Osso Bucco Recipe
4 beef shanks
1-2 carrots, finely diced*
1 onion, finely diced
1-2 celery stalks, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Flour for dredging
1 tbsp. tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
½ can crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper your shanks, and wrap some butcher string around them so they don’t fall apart when cooking (a step I always forget)!
Dredge your shanks in flour and sear them in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. About 5 minutes total.
Set the shanks aside, and saute your carrots, onion, celery and garlic. If there’s not a lot of fat in the pan, add a small glug of olive oil. Sautee them until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste.
Deglaze the pan with white wine and return the shanks to the pan. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 3-4 hours, flipping the meat every 45 minutes or so. Add more chicken stock if the sauce reduces and gets too thick.
Serve beef shanks over freshly made risotto Milanese and sprinkle with the parsley and lemon zest. I served mine with roasted baby brussels sprouts – delicious!
*Instead of chopping all these vegetables, I whirred them around in a food processor for a few seconds. I like them to melt into the sauce.