Saturday, March 8, 2014

Beef braciole al sugo (in tomato sauce)

Beef Braciole al sugo (in tomato sauce)

Preparation time: 30-35 min   Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours   Servings: about 4 – 6

Braciole with sauce is one of those traditional Italians meals reserved for special family gatherings. For many Italians, braciole are synonymous to their nonna’s cooking and memorable Sunday lunches. Thus, Braciole are part of the fond memories of most Italians who can recite who in their upbringing made the very best. Here’s our recipe.
  • 1 1/2 lb beef top round or flank steak – if meat is thick butterfly it or ask your butcher to do this. You’ll want thin slices of meat for rolling.
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1/2 c. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese or Grated Aged Provolone Cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Garlic chopped finely
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 – 10 slices prosciutto or speck, halved widthways
  • Toothpicks or string (butcher’s twine) to secure the rolls
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Olive oil for browning
  • Tomato Sauce (see recipe for this to follow)
  • 500 g rigatoni

Using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, pound the steaks between sheets of baking paper to about 5mm thick. Cut steaks in 2 widthways. (You can ask your butcher to do this for you.) If making  smaller ones cut the meat into 5-6” slices.
Rub each slice with olive oil. Lay the prosciutto slices over each steak and scatter chopped parsley, cheese, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
Roll up to enclose and secure with toothpicks. You can use 2 or 3 strings to secure the smaller ones. If making large ones, use more string or toothpicks.
In a large frypan, Brown the rolls in olive oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. 
When finished – remove them and tranfer to tomato sauce.
Cover the pan or pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir gently occasionally to turn the braciole.
Uncover the pot for the last hour of cooking to thicken.
Remove braciole before serving and remove and discard toothpicks and strings. Slice the braciole thickly.
Serve with rigatoni, plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a nice glass of red wine.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Flavors from the Sea-Calamari fritti or Fried Calamari

Note: I grew up loving these but the first time I made Calamari Fritti was in the summer at the end of my eleventh grade. A few of us had gotten together to rent an extremely rustic farmhouse ($20/month) on the very isolated west side of the island of Paros in the Cycladic chain of islands  in Greece. It was the night of the full moon and we decided to have a party, the Calamari were one of the main courses.
This is a perfect fry with all the taste of fresh squid

Ingredients: 800 g squid, semolina, olive oil, salt.

PREPARATION: Wash the squid, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut into circles and turn them over in the flour until it no longer adheres well. Put the squid in hot oil and fry until golden turning with a slotted spoon. Drain them, put them on paper towels, season with salt and serve hot. The secret of a good fried food is the temperature of the oil. To find out if the temperature is right immerse the handle of a wooden spoon. If the oil bubbles around the spoon, it means that the oil is at the right temperature.