The filling I used here is not traditional, as it lacks pine nuts and raisins. Raisins are a "never" in this household, and I simply forgot to pick up pine nuts, which I suspect would be a very delicious addition. Regardless, the stuffing is so good, you'll catch yourself eating it right out of the bowl. Oh, and I had extra from Anne's recipe (even though I did reduce the proportions), so I just added it right into the braciole sauce towards the end of cooking. Delicious. I also switched up the prep order from Anne's instructions. I wanted the sauce to simmer as long as possible, so I got that going first, and then prepped the beef rolls.
1(28 or 32-ounccan crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or pass whole tomatoes through the food mill)
for the beef rolls & filling:
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2cupfinely diced pancetta
1large onion, finely diced
Pinchcrushed red pepper flakes
1cupItalian-style bread crumbs
2clovesgarlic, smashed and finely chopped
4ouncesbutton or cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2poundstop round, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 12)
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
for the sauce:
Coat a large sauce pan with olive oil and heat over medium until shimmering. Add the onions, crushed red pepper and a pinch of salt. Sweat the onions until they are glassy, 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 about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups of water - season with salt to taste. When the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low and partially cover with a lid.
For the beef rolls:
Coat a large saute pan with olive oil, add the pancetta and bring the pan to a medium heat. Cook the pancetta until it gets brown and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions and crushed red pepper and toss to incorporate with the pancetta. 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 crumbs with the milk, stirring well until the milk has been absorbed. Set aside.
Add the garlic to the pan with the pancetta and onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until soft and have let off their moisture, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat.
Add the onion/mushroom mixture to the reserved bread and stir to combine. Add the provolone and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and stir to combine. Taste to make sure that the mixture is delicious and season with salt, to taste, if needed. Set aside.
If necessary, lay the beef slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat mallet to flatten and even out. Put about 2 heaping tablespoons of filling on one end of each of the beef slices and roll up. Secure the rolls with kitchen string or toothpicks. Repeat this process with the remaining beef and filling.
Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and put over medium-high heat. Season the beef rolls lightly with salt and brown them on all sides. As each roll finishes browning, add it to the tomato sauce, spoon sauce over the roll to coat. (Depending on the size of your pan, you will likely have to brown the rolls in batches.)
When all the rolls are in the tomato sauce, bring the sauce to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot again, and allow to cook about 2 1/2 hours. Spoon sauce over the rolls occasionally, if they're sticking out of the sauce. The beef rolls will be very, very tender at the end of cooking.
Remove the string or toothpicks before serving. To serve, arrange 2 or 3 braciole on each serving plate (or, optional, slice each roll into 1" spirals). Spoon on some of the sauce and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
You can serve this straight up, as Anne instructs, or over gnocchi or pasta (the gnocchi was a very delicious accent to this dish, I thought).