Food Network Lite's Blog

August 31, 2010

Anne Burrell’s Braciole

For those of you who didn’t grow up in an Italian household, braciole is basically stuffed steak. You don’t really find it on a lot of menus, so unless you are Italian, you don’t know a lot about it. (However, there was a hilarious Everybody Loves Raymond episode about it when Debra makes better braciole than Marie, but I digress.) It’s not exactly diet food, but I made some changes to Anne’s delicious recipe and now I can treat all my Italian and non-Italian friends to this delicious dish and not have an ounce of guilt over what I’m serving!

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BRACIOLEAnthony J. Caruso

INGREDIENTS

Stuffing:

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

Kosher salt

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups soft 100% whole wheat bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 cup skim milk

2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

1/2 pound spinach, stems removed and cut into chiffonade

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1/2 cup grated fat free mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Romano

2 pounds top round, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 12)

Sauce:

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

4 tablespoons no salt added tomato paste

1 cup red wine

1 (32-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill

2 cups water

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, used sparingly for garnish

Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Special equipment: toothpicks

DIRECTIONS

For the beef rolls:

Spray a large saute pan with olive oil spray and bring the pan to a medium heat. Add the onions and red pepper flakes. Season with salt, to taste. Cook the onions until they are soft and very aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl, combine the bread and the milk. Toss to combine and let sit until the bread has absorbed the milk and is very soft. Use your hands to get in there and really squish everything together. Reserve.

Add the garlic to the pan with the onions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt, to taste, and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have let off their moisture, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the spinach.

Add the onion/mushroom mixture to the reserved bread and stir to combine. Add the pine nuts and cheese and stir to combine. Taste to make sure that the mixture is delicious and season with salt, to taste, if needed. Set aside.

Lay the beef slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat mallet to flatten and even out the slices. Put about 1/4 cup of filling on 1 end of each of the pounded beef slices and roll up. Secure the rolls with toothpicks. Repeat this process with the remaining beef and filling.

Spray a large, wide pot with olive oil spray and put over medium-high heat. Season the beef rolls with salt, to taste, and brown them on all sides. When the beef rolls are brown on all sides, remove them from the pan and reserve. Make the sauce in the same pot.

Sauce:

Remove the oil from the pot that the beef was just browned in. Add a fresh coating of olive oil spray and add the onions and crushed red pepper. Season with salt, to taste, and put the pot over medium heat. Sweat the onions until they are translucent and very aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red wine, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and 2 cups of water and season with salt, to taste. Return the beef rolls to the pan and snuggle them into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is very tender and flavorful, about 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove the toothpicks before serving. Spoon on some of the sauce and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley.

Here’s the skinny:

First, I dropped the pancetta. I normally don’t like to take away ingredients, but you really don’t miss it here. There are so many other big, bold and rich flavors that you don’t need all the pork fat to make it taste good. Big fat savings here.

Also, I used cooking spray instead of olive oil, saving about 100 grams of fat.

Next, I got rid of the day old Italian bread and swapped out 100% whole wheat bread. I opted for a soft variety. I didn’t want the nuttiness of the whole wheat bread to overpower the stuffing, so I got a “soft” bread, meaning they have softened the whole wheat flavor in the bread. It’s becoming more popular with the major brands.

Also, I used no salt added tomato paste to cut down on the sodium of the dish.

I also swapped out regular milk for skim milk. It’s going into a stuffing so you won’t notice the difference. You have two kinds of cheeses in there for creaminess – you don’t need the extra milk fat.

I cut down on the cheeses and changed them up. Anne calls for provolone and Parmigiano-Reggiano. You can’t find reduced fat provolone (or at least not in my store), so I swapped out for a fat free mozzarella. Fat free cheeses are good for stuffings where they aren’t the solo star. However, mozzarella is a milder cheese than provolone, so in order to bump up the cheese flavor, I chose Romano over the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Romano is a little bolder, so it gives the extra kick of flavor that you’re missing from the provolone. Also, I cut the Romano in half for extra fat savings. It’s so bold, you don’t need a lot.

Lastly, I cut down on the cheese garnish. People have a habit of going nuts on topping pasta with cheese. You only need a little bit, especially with a dish that has such bold flavors to start. Just that simple reminder will help keep off the pounds.

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