Holy Braciole

braciole flank steak

Beauteous Braciole

OK….last night’s dinner was a bit of work with a lot of steps and a bunch of ingredients. Everyone liked it. That’s my story.

Braciole (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • A 1 1/4 -1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped

    mise en place

    Le Creuset Prep Bowls

  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1 10oz package Birds Eye frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 8-10 baby bella mushroom, stem removed and sliced relatively thin
  • 1/4 cup of toasted pine (same as pignoli) nuts
  • 2 tbsp Poly-O whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of Sliced or Shredded Provolone Cheese

    Organic Provolone Whole Foods

    Cut the Cheese

  • 2 leeks – chopped
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 28oz can of Muir Glen tomato puree
  • Herb bundle with Rosemary and Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a medium saute or fry pan, over medium heat, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add 1 clove garlic chopped and 1 chopped shallot. Saute until fragrant (about 2 mins)

Fragrant Garlic

Saute Garlic and Shallot

2. Add in 1 10oz package of Birds-Eye frozen chopped spinach – defrosted and squeezed dry. Saute until heated through then transfer spinach to a bowl and set aside.

Birds-Eye Spinach

Birds-Eye Spinach Sauteeing

3. Add 1 tbsp of Olive Oil to the same pan and heat over medium. Then add in 1 cup of sliced baby bella mushrooms. Saute until tender.

Whole Foods Baby Bella Mushrooms

I foraged for these at Whole Foods

4. Add back in the spinach and stir to combine

5. Stir in 1/4 cup of toasted Pine Nuts – I buy these in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods. They’re expensive, but buying in the bulk aisle allows you to get just what you need.

Baby Bella Mushrooms Birds Eye Spinach Saute

Spinach, Mushrooms & Toasted Pine Nuts

6. Once heated through, transfer to a bowl and while still hot, stir in 2 tbsp of Poly-O whole milk ricotta cheese. I wasn’t going to add anything here…but needed a binder for the stuffing and I heart ricotta cheese!

Poly-O Ricotta Cheese

Stuffing is Done!

7. Place the flank steak on plastic wrap on a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap and using the flat side of a tenderizer, pound out the steak to about 1/2 inch thick. Be careful not to over pound and toughen the meat. If the flank steak is super thick, you can carefully butterfly the steak before pounding or even instead of pounding out.

Whole Foods Flank Steak

Pre-Pounded Flank Steak

8. Remove the top and bottom layer of plastic wrap and Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper the meat on the up side

9. Place 4 – 6 pieces of cooking string under the pounded flank steak at about 2 inch intervals. The string will need to be long enough to tie around the braciole once stuffed, so better to err on too long than too short.

NOTE: Putting the string under the meat before stuffing and rolling it, makes the ultimate tying process easier

10. Cover the meat with a layer of the spinach, mushroom, nut mixture. Leave about an inch uncovered all around – I didn’t leave enough space…

Birds Eye chopped spinach mushrooms

Layer on the stuffing

11. On top of that, add a layer of thinly sliced or shredded provolone cheese. You need a medium hard cheese here as you don’t want it all melty and oozing out of the braciole.

Organic Whole Foods Provolone

Because Everything is better with Cheese

12. Carefully roll the flank steak – keeping the stuffing inside.

13. Tie the roll securely with the strings – mine looked a little frankenstein or maybe ‘The Mummy’, but that was fine.

Whole Foods Flank Steak Braciole

Secured Franken-Style

14. In a roasting pan or a lasagna pan over two burners on med/high heat 3 tbsp of olive oil. I used my All-Clad turkey roasting pan…but, should have used a smaller one like the All-Clad lasagna pan.

14. Sear the stuffed flank steak on all sides – about 2 minutes a side.

whole foods flank steak braciole

Searing the Braciole

15. Transfer the seared steak to a cutting board. Set Aside.

16. Depending upon size of pan…Add another 1-2 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and heat over medium.

17. Add in 1 medium onion sliced, two chopped leaks and one chopped carrot. Saute until softened – about 7 mins.

NOTE: I might have added a second carrot…but only had one in the fridge.

Leeks Onions Carrots

Saute Veggies

11. Add in 2 cloves of garlic chopped and salt and pepper – saute another minute or two.

12. Raise the heat to med/high and pour in 1 cup of dry red wine to deglaze the pan.  Allow about 1/2 of the wine to evaporate.

13. Pour in 2 cups of beef broth – I had some chicken stock I needed to use so I did 1/2 chicken stock, 1/2 beef broth.

14. Return the meat to the pan and cover with 1 28oz can of Muir Glen pureed tomatoes. Then add in an herb bundle of Rosemary and Thyme – about 2 sprigs of each….

Muir Glenn Tomato Puree

Smother in Muir Glen Tomato Puree

15. Stir the sauce a bit. Bring to a boil, carefully cover with tin foil and place in the oven.

16. Braise in the oven for :50 – :60 minutes.

17. When done…Remove from the roasting pan and allow the meat to rest for :10 minutes.

18. Transfer a few ladles of the braising sauce to a blender and allow to cool….Then puree.

DO NOT puree while the sauce is still super hot – it’ll blow the lid off of the blender…really.

Whole Foods Vegetable Puree Muir Glen

CAREFULLY Puree the Sauce

19. Slice the braciole and transfer to a serving dish. Serve with the pureed vegetable sauce. Make sure you remove all strings and…I had to toothpick the ends…remember to remove those too.

Braciole Spinach Mushroom Stuffed Flank Steak Whole Foods

Holy Braciole!

Holy Braciole! That was a bit of work – but well worth it. And…while it could serve 4, three of us ate all but one slice!

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A Moveable Feast…And, A Feast that Moved

Ernest Hemingway’s ability to say so much in so few words strikes a spot in my soul. His style isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always loved his words. His last book was A Moveable Feast. Published in 1964, three years after Hemingway’s suicide, the book is a compilation of autobiographical stories that his widow and fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, culled from the author’s personal notes. The book chronicals Hemingway’s time spent in Paris beginning in the ’20’s with  the likes of Gertrude Stein, F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, James Joyce and others. About the city of lights, he told his friend and later his biographer, AE Hotchner: ‘If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

I think everyone knows of such a place – a place that stays with them forever. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be hosted by my friend, Sam, whose moveable feast is Nantucket. The tiny island off the elbow of Cape Cod isn’t everyone’s moveable feast…but, while up there, we did have a feast that moved. Sam’s sister who also has a home on the island arrived early Saturday morning after a 27 hour trek from Utah. With three friends coming to stay, she planned to host a barbecue at her home that night and invited us for dinner. Once settled in, Sam’s sister discovered her grill didn’t work…And at 4pm Saturday it was determined to move the dinner to Sam’s where we were happy to chef and host.

With only two hours and limited supplies, we created a truly impressive feast.

Flank Steak, marinated for two hours in a simple mix of garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Grilled about 7 minutes per side on med/high heat and served sliced.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – seven medium sized. Whisk together a combination of 1 tbsp whole grain and 1 tbsp dijon mustard with the juice of 1 1/5 lemons and the juice of 1 lime. Once completely combined, slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Whisk until the mixture is emulsified and all bubbles disappear. Stir in about a tablespoon of dried thyme – crushed in your hands to release the flavor. Add my new favorite ingredient: Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Pour over the chicken. Chiffonade a few basil leaves and add to the tops of the chicken. Marinade covered in the fridge for two hours.

Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes per side over med/high heat.

Corn on the cob -We soaked seven corns in their husks in water for about :30 minutes and then grilled over medium heat for :15 minutes. Let cool. Shuck and serve.

Roasted potatoes. To speed things up, I cubed a medium bag of yellow potatoes. In a bowl, I combined 1/4 to 1/3 cup Olive Oil, 1 large Diced Shallot, about a tsp of dried rosemary (crushed in my palms) and…1 tbsp of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt. This mixture was then tossed with the cubed potatoes and put on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Into the oven at 450 for :45 minutes. Warning! Yellow potatoes have a higher moisture content than regular russet potatoes and will emit a good deal of steam in the oven. The steam will burst out and curl your eyelashes when you open the door – I know because it happened to me. Take caution.

Easy salad of arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and a olive oil/balsamic/dijon vinaigrette.

It was a last minute move and a quickly prepared meal. The nature reserve that backs Sam’s property provided the perfect back drop on a cool and breezy but rainless Nantucket night. It’s nights like these that help us understand why, for many, Nantucket is a moveable feast. The guests had a great time and we came away looking like kitchen rock stars…Isn’t it pretty to think so?