This is a typical Italian-American Sunday meal if ever there was one. Serve the braciole as they are, or fish them out of the sauce, arrange them on a platter, and serve the sauce with rigatoni or gnocchi. Sausages and meatballs may also be added to the pot for an even more bountiful dinner.
- For the Braciole
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) day-old Italian bread, crust removed
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
- 2 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 12 slices, each about ½ inch thick
- 12 slices imported Italian prosciutto
- ¼ pound imported provola or provolone cheese cut into ¼ x ¼ x 2-inch sticks
- freshly ground black pepper
- For the Sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 small onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1, 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- water as needed
- Crushed hot red pepper
To make the stuffing, pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the bread cubes and let soak until the bread is very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the bread, squeeze out excess milk from the cubes with your hands and return it to the bowl. Stir in the chopped eggs, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, raisins, pine nuts and garlic. Mix well and set aside.
Pound each slice of beef round to a thickness of about ¼ inch. Arrange one of the pounded meat slices in front of you with one of the short sides closest to you. Top with a slice of prosciutto, and tap the prosciutto with the back side of a knife so it adheres to the beef. Spread 2 tablespoons of the stuffing along the edge of the meat closest to you, leaving a ½-inch border over the provolone, the fold the side borders in to overlap the edges of the stuffing. Roll into a compact roll about 4 inches long. Secure the end flap with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining beef and stuffing, then season the rolls with salt and pepper.
To brown the braciole and start the sauce: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy casserole over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add as many of the braciole as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning the braciole as necessary, until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. If necessary, repeat with any remaining braciole. Adjust the heat under the pan as necessary to prevent the beef from scorching.
Meanwhile, empty the tomatoes into a bowl and squeeze them with your hands until coarsely crushed , removing the cores as you do.
If necessary, return all the braciole to the casserole. Pour the wine into the casserole, bring to a boil, and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes. Add tomato paste and bay leaves and stir until paste in dissolved. Season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper, adjust the heat to simmering and cook, adding water necessary to keep the braciole completely submerged, until the beef is tender, about 3 hours. Remove the toothpicks before serving.