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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.

Grandma Gennaco's Beef Braciole by A Family Feast

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.

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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.

Grandma Gennaco's Beef Braciole by A Family Feast

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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.

This recipe brings back some very happy family memories for my husband – what are some of your own long-standing family recipes?  We’d love to hear about them!

You may also like these other Italian Family favorites:

 

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Grandma Gennaco's Beef Braciole by A Family Feast

Grandma Gennaco’s Beef Braciole

  • Prep Time: 45 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

For the rolled meat

  • 2 pounds of flank steak only (do not use top or bottom round)
  • 4 ounces salt pork (7 ounce piece with skin)
  • 5 garlic cloves roughly chopped
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 slices prosciutto chopped
  • 2 ounces pesto
  • ¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the tomato sauce

  • 4 cloves sliced garlic
  • 46 basil leaves minced
  • 2 tablespoons mint minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 28-ounce cans ground or whole tomato (if possible, use Pomodoro San Marzano tomatoes such as Cento or Pastene brand)
  • 28 ounces of water (use tomato can to measure)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter to round out flavor if too acidic

Instructions

  1. Depending on how thick your flank steak is, you may have to butterfly the meat (run a long sharp knife horizontal to meat and board from one end to the other so you end up with two equal flat pieces) If the piece of flank is too thin to butterfly then pounding to desired thickness will do. Regardless, either method will still require further pounding to get the meat to the desired thinness.
  2. Cut cross marks every 2-3 inches on the beef against the grain about half way through. Cover with plastic and pound to about ¼ – ½ inch thick.
  3. In a small food chopper or mill, make a paste out of salt pork, garlic, parsley and olive oil. (Do not use the salt pork rind.)
  4. In a small bowl, mix prosciutto, pesto and Romano. Add pureed salt pork mixture and mix.
  5. Sprinkle pounded beef with salt and pepper and spread filling on meat, leaving one long edge free. Roll ending on side with no filling and finish with seam side down.
  6. Then, cut beef into six separate rolls. Using butcher’s twine, seal each end of each roll.Stuffing the beef
  7. Place olive oil in 10 quart Dutch oven and heat over medium to medium high heat. Brown braciole rolls until browned on all sides. About 2-3 minutes per side. Set seared beef aside.
  8. In same pan, lower heat to medium and add slice garlic, basil, mint and red pepper flakes. Cook for only a minute or less until garlic just starts to turn color.
  9. Add tomatoes, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Reduce to low heat to simmer. Ideally, place a heat diffuser between pan and flames (indirect heat will prevent the sauce from burning in the bottom of your pan; a diffuser is an inexpensive purchase). In a pinch you can use flattened aluminum cans with the paper label removed and both ends cut off.Cooking the beefBring to a simmer and place seared beef into sauce. Cover slightly and simmer gently for 90 minutes.
  10. Remove beef, clip off strings and cut each piece into about four slices for serving. (Alternately the individual rolls may be served as a portion without slicing.)
  11. At this point, you have a choice. During cooking, a lot of the fat from the salt pork will float to the top. Remove it if you don’t want all of that pork fat in the sauce (although the flavor is fantastic!). We ladled off about half of it and stirred the rest into the sauce. Puree the sauce with an immersion blender if you used whole canned tomatoes. If the sauce is too acidic for you, add a little butter to smooth out the flavor. Serve beef and sauce over your favorite cooked pasta.

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Grandma Gennaco's Beef Braciole

Grandma Gennaco's Beef Braciole

Featured in this Beef Braciole post


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    Comments

  • Patricia Niessner wrote:

    To cut acid in sauce add a fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda. My mother was a chef in a Italian restaurant and this was her secret to cut acid. Also romano cheese in meatballs and sauce is great too

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much for the suggestion Patricia! We’ll have to give it a try!

  • Larraine wrote:

    I come from an Italian family. This is one of the few recipes for braciole that’s for real.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Larraine!

  • Amydecorso wrote:

    We made Grandma Gennaco’s Beef Braciole for Christmas. Did a few things creatively but all and all followed the base recipe and it was FABULOUS! So tender and flavorful! I swear it’s the garlic salt pork paste trick that does it. Thank you for sharing a piece of history! Everyone loved it and it will be an annual tradition in our house:)

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for writing to us Amy! We’re so glad you all enjoyed the recipe!

  • Darlene barr wrote:

    Looks so good that I am going to make for a dinner party. I will 8 adults and 6 children. Do you think the recipe as is will be enough or should I double it? Thanks!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Darlene! For 14 people I’d definitely double the recipe! Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

    • Maria Marinelli wrote:

      When I make brasciole I use chipped steak that most use for sandwiches. It is nice and thin, rolls easily and you can get more individual rolls than a thicker fillet of beef and it does not require a long cooking time. Have your sauce ready to spoon over the brasciole and it should need only 10-15 min of heating.

      • Martha wrote:

        Thanks for the suggestion Maria! We’d still recommend the flank steak for flavor reasons but your suggestion is definitely quicker to cook and easier.

  • Kendall wrote:

    I’m enjoying some time off at the end of the year, my kids are home from college and I decided to treat my family to a special dinner last night. I’ve always wanted to make a braciole and this recipe sounded delicious. WOW. It was a hit and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers this morning! The sauce is rich and flavorful- I could drink it out of a cup!

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you (all) enjoyed the recipe Kendall!! Happy Holidays to you and your family! And thanks for writing to us!

  • Nick Gugliuzza wrote:

    GREAT GREAT MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for writing to us Nick! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Jennifer Polizzi wrote:

    I am 1/2 Sicillian..my grandpa Polizzi made this a recipe learned from his parents Vencenza Borio & Louis Polizzi. It was a meal you had only for special gathering due too being pricy for the time. When he passed..we talked of this dish and the memories it held and wished we had asked for it. I am so happy to surprise my aunt tomorrow for her bday with this dish for it is so much more than the actual dish but for more the meaning it held and the many memories it will keep alive. Food for Italians is life..it’s personal. Thk u!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Jennifer! We hope that your family and especially your aunt loves the dish and all the fond memories along with it!

  • Cara Ivey wrote:

    Ok, I’m officially getting no sleep tonight as I will be too busy hoarding you recipes into my favorites… Looks AMAZING! I’ve always wanted to make Braciole.

  • Rachel @ I Love My Disorganized Life wrote:

    Holy smokes does this look awesome! I am 1/2 Italian and I wish MY great grandmother had left me a recipe like this 🙂 Feel free to share anytime at Wicked good Wednesdays at http://www.ilovemydisorganizedlife.com

    Pinned!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Rachel! Will do!

    • Barbara wrote:

      I’m Italian, but I’ve never seen pesto with braciole and I love pesto. I’ll have to try it this way. The other thing I do different is that I put lots of romano cheese in my gravy (in Boston we call it gravy when it has meat in it). The cheese makes a really big difference. I cook onions with the garlic. When it’s all the ingredients are mixed together I add extra garlic powder, onion powder, parsley and a tsp. of sugar. The sugar is what makes it less acetic. I cook it for about 3 to 4 hours. I taste test it in between and if it needs more flavor, I add another big handful of cheese.

      • Martha wrote:

        Your gravy sounds delicious Barbara! Thanks for stopping by today and we hope you enjoy our version of braciole!

  • Becca @ Crumbs and Chaos wrote:

    This looks amazing!! Such a fabulous family dinner memory 🙂

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Becca – Thank you so much! Martha

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