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Grandma Gennaco’s Beef Braciole is a very special dish! This delicious recipe has been in our family for over 100 years.
Today we’re sharing a very special family recipe for Beef Braciole that was passed down to our family from my husband’s grandmother. This recipe originated from her mother, Grandma Gennaco, and it has stood the test of time for over 100 years.
What is Beef Braciole?
To make the beef braciole (pronounced bra’zhul which means ‘slices of beef’), a tender flank steak is pounded or butterflied to an even thickness and then rolled with a flavorful filling of salt pork, garlic, pesto, parsley, prosciutto and Pecorino Romano cheese.
After being cut into smaller pieces and tied with a string to hold them together, the rolls of meat are seared in a pan until browned. Then the beef rolls are placed in tomato sauce to cook through to fork-tender perfection, then sliced and served over pasta.
A Special Sunday Supper
Over the years, this beef braciole was served as a special Sunday meal at my husband’s family gatherings. While dinner was cooking, Jack’s boyhood job was to walk down to the local Italian bakery to get bread for the meal. When he returned, he was so happy to see his grandfather – always dressed in a shirt, tie, and grey cardigan sweater. Jack would run over to greet him because he knew hidden in those sweater pockets were M&M’s or Life Saver candies that Grandpa had hidden in there specifically for Jack to find.
“I come from an Italian family. This is one of the few recipes for braciole that’s for real.” – Larraine
Why You’ll Love Beef Braciole
- This is a truly memorable meal that your dinner guests will remember for a long time.
- The flavors are absolutely amazing – with super tender beef and that salty flavorful filling.
- The braciole can be prepped and rolled ahead of time – then let it cook in the pot.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Beef – You’ll want to use flank steak for this recipe. Flank is a very lean, very flavorful cut of beef. Just note that you will need to cook it for a long time for it to become tender enough to eat.
- Salt Pork – Not all beef braciole recipes include salt pork in the filling, but our family recipe does. It adds a distinctive, salty flavor, and a richness that makes this dish truly special.
- Other Filling Ingredients – Fresh garlic cloves, Italian flat leaf parsley, prosciutto (ask for imported, not domestic, if possible), pesto, and Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Italian Tomato Sauce – Made with canned San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, basil, mint, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and butter. You could simmer the braciole in your favorite jarred sauce if you’d like, but the flavors won’t be quite the same.
- Pasta – (Optional) for serving.
Special Tools Needed
- Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed, deep pan with cover.
- Meat pounder
- Mini food processor
- Butcher’s Twine
- (Optional) Heat Diffuser – to prevent scorching
Click here to learn an easy method to dice salt pork. Note that if your salt pork comes out of the package heavily salted, you should rinse most of the salt off before using it in this recipe.
How do I make Beef Braciole?
- Prepare the flank steak by pounding it to a 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness. If your steak is thick, you can butterfly it first, then pound.
- Make a paste out of the salt pork, garlic, parsley, and olive oil.
- Combine the paste with prosciutto, pesto, and grated cheese to create the filling.
- Season pounded beef with salt and pepper, then spread the filling, leaving one long edge free of any filling.
- Roll the beef, ending with the edge with no filling and seam side facing down.
- Cut the beef roll into six equal pieces, then tie both ends of each piece with butcher’s twine. (See photos in recipe card below.)
- Sear the beef rolls, then set aside.
- Make the sauce in the same Dutch oven you used to sear the beef. Bring to a simmer, then nestle the seared beef into the sauce.
- Simmer gently for an hour and a half, or until the beef is super tender. (If you are serving over pasta, cook it while the braciole simmers.)
- Remove beef from the sauce, then clip off the butchers twine.
- Slice each piece of beef into four slices.
- Enjoy as is, or serve over pasta.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance can I roll the beef braciole? Earlier in the day that you plan to cook and serve the dish. Because of the high salt content in the filling, you won’t want to make it too far ahead – the salt can start to draw out some of the moisture from the beef and other fresh ingredients.
How do I reheat leftovers? You can reheat leftovers right in the Dutch oven, or microwave individual portions.
Can I freeze beef braciole? You can, however, this dish is best freshly made.
This post originally appeared on A Family Feast in January 2013. The post has been updated but the delicious recipe remains the same.
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Grandma Gennaco’s Beef Braciole
For the rolled meat
- One 2 pound flank steak (do not use top or bottom round)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces salt pork, coarsely chopped
- 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces sliced prosciutto, diced
- 4 tablespoons pesto (use jarred or see here)
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the tomato sauce
- 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, minced and divided
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 28–ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes such as Cento or Pastene brand)
- 28 ounces of water (rinse cans into one and add to sauce)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound of your favorite pasta
- If you feel comfortable butterflying the thickest part of the flank steak, do that now. If not, cut narrow cross hatch marks on both sides, cover with plastic wrap and pound. Our flank was 8X12 inches and after pounding, was 12X15 inches.
- Sprinkle the top with the salt and pepper.
- In a small food processor, puree salt pork, garlic, parsley and oil to form a thick paste.
- In a medium bowl, mix prosciutto, pesto, Romano and pureed salt pork mixture.
- Spread this all over the flattened flank steak, leaving a one-inch edge on the furthest long side away from you.
- Start rolling the whole long flank into a tight roll, finishing on the open edge away from you, seam side down.
- Cut the long tight roll into four to six even logs, depending on the size of your beef.
- Using butcher’s twine and tie each end of each roll, leaving one string end of each tie long enough to find it after cooking.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot that has a lid, add the third of a cup of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, sear the beef rolls for 2-3 minutes per side until nicely browned, about 8-12 minutes.
- Remove the beef to a platter and reduce heat to medium. Remove and discard any filling that may have leaked out and darkened in the pot bottom.
- Add the sliced garlic, ¼ cup of the basil, two tablespoons of the mint, all of the oregano and hot pepper flakes and cook for two minutes, stirring often and starting to scrape up the brown bits from the pan bottom.
- Add the canned tomatoes, water, sugar, salt, pepper and bay leaves and stir and scrape up more of the brown bits from the bottom.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer then nestle the beef logs into the sauce.
- Place a heat diffuser under the pot and place the lid partially over the top.
- Once the sauce has started to bubble, reduce to medium low and set your timer for 90 minutes. Stir twice during the 90 minutes to make sure nothing is sticking.
- Remove the logs to a platter or your cutting board.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Use a small ladle and remove and discard the fat that floated to the top of the sauce. This is rendered salt pork fat and can be discarded. Also remove and discard the bay leaves.
- Add the butter, remaining basil and remaining mint and stir then remove from heat.
- Salt the pasta water and cook your pasta.
- While pasta is cooking, remove the twine from the rolls then slice each roll into half inch slices.
- To serve, place pasta into serving dishes, top with sauce then add the sliced Braciole.
- Serve with additional Romano or Parmesan cheese.
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