Braciole with Sausage & Pine Nuts

I’m going to pull the curtain back on Paleo recipes. It’s pretty much all been done before.  There are no new ways to cook meat… even sous-vide has been around a while now.  Nevertheless, it is fun to highlight the less common stuff to get our creative juices flowing and add some variety to dinner beyond grilled steaks and roasted chicken breasts. I’m thinking it may have been a stitch since you threw together a Braciole; I know it’s been a few years for me.  So while this is not new, it is surely delicious and most definitely qualifies for the cave’s recipe box.

Braciole is nearly Paleo by traditional definition, so it’s very easy to tweak.  No bread crumbs or parmesan cheese this time. Instead we’re gonna ramp things up with pine nuts, mushrooms and a little sausage.  This is Paleo, which means we stuff fatty meat inside juicy steak without guilt. So raise your fork AND your knife and enjoy another take on classic Braciole.

Braciole Done | popularpaleo.com

Ingredients

  • 1-2 lb flank steak (that’s a range of one to two pounds, not necessarily a single 2-pound steak)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or ground Italian sausage
  • 5 large white mushrooms or creminis, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 cup beef stock or red wine (or even a mixture of both)
  • 1-14.5 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Butcher’s twine (toothpicks aren’t gonna help us here)
  • *1 TBSP Italian Seasoning if using unseasoned ground pork

Prep:
Add or play “The Rat Pack” station on Pandora. It’s a crucial step really… I wouldn’t skip it. Fact: Italian food tastes better if you listen to Dean Martin while cooking.

Because I’m the cook and the dishwasher in this kitchen, I use as few dishes as I can get away with.  This is all going to happen in… yes, you guessed it… my dutch oven.  Seriously, where would I be without this thing?  Get yours heated to about medium-high.

Chop the mushrooms and spinach, dice the onion, mince the garlic. Put everything into a large bowl. *Remember your mis en place!

When the chopping’s done and the pan is hot, add a good couple tablespoons of olive oil… enough to keep the veggies from sticking, but not so much they begin to deep-fat fry.

Add the veggie mix plus the half pound of ground pork or sausage to the pan.  I’m fine with cooking it all together. It doesn’t change the cook time and frankly, it’s simpler this way. If you are using plain ground pork, be sure to add a tablespoon of Italian Seasoning to the mix. After about 6-7 minutes (when everything is nearly done), toss in the tablespoon of pine nuts to get the oils going. Give it a couple more minutes, until the mushrooms and onions look well cooked, then transfer everything back into the bowl in which they were originally held.  Use a splash of water to deglaze the pan and just toss whatever gets drudged up. Set the pan aside, turn the burner off for now.

Let’s turn our attention to that slab of beef.  Flank steaks vary, but are generally around a half inch thick.  If you have a meat tenderizer, whack this a few times to loosen up the meat and thin it out just a touch. It’ll make for easier rolling.  Apparently I don’t have a meat tenderizer, so I just used my fist.  All that CrossFit’s gotta be good for something practical, right?

Layer all the sausage-mushroom filling you can on top of the flank steak. It’s time for me to confess that I had you make more filling than needed.  There’s some rhyme to my reason… but I’ll get back to that later.  Time to roll up the Braciole. Rolling this is really more like a lift-fold-scoop then roll motion.  Unless you are working with a large thin layer of beef, this will not resemble a cinnamon roll. It’ll look more like you stuffed a butterflied tenderloin. In fact, traditional Braciole uses one part loin roast, one part knife work. I just figured that a flank steak would be a little easier and faster and probably cheaper.

Braciole in progress | popularpaleo.com

Use butcher’s twine to secure the Braciole. This step can’t be avoided.  Here’s a quick video on how to tie up a roast, if you’d like a refresher.

Go back to the stove and get the dutch oven or large, thick-bottomed pot heated up to medium-high again and add in a couple tablespoons of olive oil (extra virgin, of course).  Sear the Braciole on all sides, then add in the tomatoes and beef stock.  We don’t drink wine, so I’m choosing not to use it–lest the remainder go to waste and become vinegar on my kitchen counter. That would be a crime against vineyards everywhere. If you want to include red wine, then you can use it in place of the one cup stock or you can do half and half, whatever suits.  The beauty of savory cooking versus, say, baking is the flexibility!

Braciole in the pan | popularpaleo.com

Bring this to a boil, then reduce the temperature to low, cover and braise on the stove top for about 30 minutes for medium doneness.

When the timer dings, remove the Braciole and set aside under a foil tent to rest.  Turn the heat up on what’s left in the pan.  When the juices begin to simmer, add the remaining filling into the sauce.  Since we won’t be pairing our beef with heavy pastas or other fillers, I say we milk this whole mushroom-sausage filling thing!  Mix the sauce, simmer and let reduce to thicken up a bit.  It only takes maybe 5 minutes at medium heat to reach a good consistency, but go with your instincts.  When it looks like something you’d want to top your dinner with, then it’s ready.

IMG_4163

Slice and plate the rested Braciole and top with your simple tomato-sausage-mushroom sauce.  This would be fantastic with some roasted veggies like zucchini and squash! The leftovers are pretty darn edible too.


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