Best-Ever Braciole

published Dec 9, 2021
Braciole Recipe

Braciole is one of those slow-cooked dishes that turns many ingredients into one comforting, delicious flavor.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook1 hour 40 minutes

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Braciole (thin slices of meat that are rolled as a roulade) in a red sauce, in a large oval pot
Credit: Olivia Mack McCool

A friend who also grew up in an Italian family in New Jersey asked me the other day what I was making for dinner. My reply: “Braciole! It reminds me of my mom every time,” to which she immediately started reminiscing about having leftover braciole in her lunch box in elementary school. Most Italian Americans have some kind of story about their mother or grandmother making braciole when they were little. It brings back family dinner memories for a lot of people. 

Pronounced brah-shole, braciole is one of those slow-cooked dishes that turns many simple ingredients into one comforting, delicious flavor. A thin slice of meat is wrapped around a savory combination of breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, and herbs before being cooked in wine and tomatoes.

You can use a few different cuts of beef, but this recipe is made with the easy-to-find flank steak. Butterflying and pounding the flank steak not only makes it easier to roll up with the filling, but it also tenderizes the typically tough cut of meat. After browning on the stovetop, it gets simmered in the oven with wine and tomatoes until tender and super flavorful. 

What Is the Difference Between Involtini and Braciole?

Both words refer to a preparation of meat that is wrapped around a filling and braised until tender.

  • It varies region to region in Italy, but typically involtini implies that the dish is made with very small cuts of meat, resulting in small bundles.
  • Braciole implies that it is one large cut of meat meant to serve many. 
Credit: Olivia Mack McCool

What to Serve with Braciole

Here is where cultural differences really shine. In Italy, a second course is called a “contorni” and it is served after the pasta course, also known as “primi” — never together. Can you serve this braciole next to pasta that has been tossed in the tomato sauce? The answer is yes. But if you invite a guest who was born and raised in Italy they might look at you a little funny. The good news is that with or without pasta, it’s a home run. 

Braciole Recipe

Braciole is one of those slow-cooked dishes that turns many ingredients into one comforting, delicious flavor.

Prep time 15 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 40 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces

    unsliced sharp Provolone cheese

  • 1 ounce

    Pecorino Romano cheese

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh parsley leaves

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    dry, fine breadcrumbs

  • 4 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    (1 1/2-pound) flank steak

  • 1 heaping tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1 cup

    dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as it is completed: Grate 2 ounces Provolone cheese on the large holes of box grater. Grate 1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese on the small holes. Finely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves. Grate 2 of the garlic cloves directly into the bowl (or finely chop).

  2. Add 1/4 plain breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir until well-combined.

  3. Place 1 (1-1/2 pound) flank steak on a cutting board with a shorter side closer to you. Place your hand on top of the steak, parallel with the long edge. Using a sharp knife parallel to the cutting board, cut horizontally into it from top to bottom, but do not cut all the way through the steak. Open up the two sides like a book.

  4. Place the steak between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small frying pan to even out any thicker parts and tenderize it.

  5. Cut 5 to 6 (10-inch) pieces and 1 (24-inch) piece of string. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle the meat evenly with the filling. Starting from a long side, roll up the meat, tucking in any filling that spills out. Towards the end, start to tuck in the sides. Roll until you have a tight log shape.

  6. Slide each smaller piece of string under the roll and tie them, spacing them evenly along the meat about 2 inches apart. Slide the longer piece of string under the roll lengthwise and tie at the top to secure. Snip and discard any long excess pieces of string. (At this point, you can wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before cooking.)

  7. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, ovenproof, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the braciole and cook, turning every few minutes, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. While the braciole is browning, finely chop the remaining 1 garlic clove. Transfer the braciole to a plate. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste and 1 cup dry white wine. Stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and stir to combine.

  8. Return the braciole to the pan, nestling it in the sauce. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake, flipping the braciole halfway through, until the meat is very tender and easily pulls apart with a fork, about 1 1/2 hours total.

  9. Carefully transfer the braciole to a clean cutting board. Cut off and discard all of the twine. Cut the braciole crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, transfer to a serving plate, and spoon the sauce over the slices.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The uncooked braciole can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.

This dish gets better with time. If you can, make it in the morning or the night before, refrigerate, and reheat when you're ready to serve.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.