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3 or 4 lbs round rump of beef
1/4 lb. 1/4" thick prosciutto, pancetta or lean salt pork
1/2 lb. lean ground veal
1/4 cup Italian salami
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened or olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 tablespoons flour
2 large cans whole Italian tomatoes
3 large sprigs basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Thinly slice the beef, with the grain, into 1/4 inch thick slices as large as possible from the roast being used.
Place the slices between 2 sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and flatten using the flat side of a heavy meat cleaver, a smooth meat pounder or a small heavy pan. Pound as thinly as possible without breaking through. Season lightly with salt and pepper (and a light sprinkling of cayenne, if desired). Set aside.
Soak the breadcrumbs in 1/4 cup milk. Squeeze out excess until bread crumbs are nearly dry.
Cooks Note: If you want to make your own breadcrumbs, lightly toast day-old bread (Italian or French breads make the best breadcrumbs) in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter with chopped garlic, parsley, oregano, basil and celery seeds. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Whir in the food processor or grate using a large Microplane grater until you have coarse crumbs.
Grind the veal, prosciutto (or lean salt pork or pancetta) and salami, 2 cloves garlic and parsley, using a meat grinder or food processor. Combine with the Parmesan cheese, butter or olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and egg. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture evenly over the flattened beef slices. Roll up tightly and tie securely using cotton or butcher's string so that none of the stuffing can escape.
Put a small portion of chopped salt pork mixture into the bottom of a heavy Dutch oven and allow it to melt in 1 tablespoon of olive oil with 2 or 3 whole cloves of garlic and chopped onion. Press the garlic flat with the tines of a fork as it begins to soften and color; remove before it browns.
Place the rolled up braciola into the hot oil mixture and turn occasionally until all sides are browned evenly (adjust heat as necessary). Add carrots and onions to the oil to flavor it. When braciola are browned, add the wine, stirring up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a flat rubber spatula.
Reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated. Sprinkle beef with flour, turning the beef in the pot until the flour has browned. Add the cans of tomatoes and just enough water or beef broth to barely cover the beef. Add basil, bay leaf and oregano.
Bring water or broth to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Season with a little salt and pepper. Continue to simmer for about 2 hours, or until beef is fork tender (depends on the toughness or age of the beef).
When beef is tender, remove from the sauce and keep warm.
If desired, a hand blender may be used to smooth the sauce. Cook sauce over high heat until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove tying string from the beef rolls. Slice carefully at an angle and arrange decoratively on a serving dish so that the rolled filling is visible. Ladle sauce over the top. Goes well as an accompaniment to ravioli or other pasta.
Braciola keeps well submerged under pasta sauce in the refrigerator or freezer.
A true Italian feast! My mother, whose parents came from Sicily and Naples, made this dish often as a Sunday meal in Winter. I enjoy continuing this tradition during our long, cold, New England Winters.
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