Tracy Lee Karner

Braciola (Italian Beef Rolls in Tomato Sauce) for 2, prepared with love

Tracy Lee Karner
Simmering Braciola

Braciola is slow food–weekend fare for people who love to cook.

enjoy chopping the ingredients and pounding the meat. There is art in rolling the beef and stuffing, making neat little bundles of yum. Aromas tantalize while the beef tenderizes in the simmering sauce, increasing everyone’s anticipation.

Braciola is best when it’s prepared with love.  Here’s how I make mine (serves 2):


  • 2 small sirloin steaks (4 ounces each), pounded to 1/8 inch
    • (see picture below–you can do this yourself or ask your butcher to do it)
  • 1 slice stale wheat bread with kalamata olives and rosemary (about 1 ounce)
    • (we make ours from scratch and always have some in the freezer. You can use plain wheat bread and add 2 chopped, pitted olives + 1/8 teaspoon well-crushed, dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 piece of thick-sliced bacon, chopped and cooked
  • 1/4 cup shredded romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of beaten egg
    • (save the leftover egg to stir into a nice hot chicken broth, seasoned with Italian herbs, to make a quick Stracciatella soup)
  • 2 slices whole milk mozzarella (scant one ounce, each), cut into 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ sticks (see photo below).
  • 1/4 cup red wine (use whatever you’ll be drinking with the meal)
  • Also–your favorite red sauce and pasta, additional grated cheese optional

To assemble:

  • Dice the bread into 1/4″ squares.
  • In a small bowl, cover with milk and stir to moisten. Let soak for 20 minutes to soften the bread.
  • Add the romano, parsley and egg. Stir to combine.
  • Spread 1/2 of the stuffing mix on each of the pounded steaks, leaving a 1-inch border of steak all around (see photo).
  • Spread a layer of  mozzarella over each.
  • Fold the sides in as pictured.
  • Roll and secure with toothpicks.

To cook:

  • In a small dutch oven, sear the rolls on all sides in a small amount of whatever hot fat you choose. (I used 1 tablespoon of olive oil, + 1 teaspoon of bacon fat). The pictures will show you how to employ a handy, inexpensive kitchen tong to hold the meat in place. Searing takes approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove the kettle from the heat and remove the meat to a dish. Use the tong and a paper towel to swab out the extra fat, but be sure to leave the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. If any cheese has leaked out and burned to the pan, remove it so your sauce won’t taste like blackened toast.
  • Return the kettle to the heat and deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits.
  • Add your favorite red sauce. If yours is jarred, you’ll want to add some water to thin it out, so it won’t cook down into paste.
  • Return the meat to the kettle, turning so they’re nicely coated with sauce.
  • Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to the lowest-low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Turn the bundles over, cover again and simmer for another 20 minutes. During this last simmer, you’ll want to boil up a pot of your favorite pasta.
  • Serve with a green salad and red wine and savor slowly with conversation.

IMG_0023IMG_0024IMG_0025IMG_0026IMG_0028IMG_0029IMG_0031IMG_0032IMG_0034IMG_0038IMG_0040IMG_0043IMG_0045IMG_0049When you want to show your love by whipping up a kitchen delight, what are you inclined to make?

35 thoughts on “Braciola (Italian Beef Rolls in Tomato Sauce) for 2, prepared with love”

  1. This reminded me of Rouladen, just better (I love Rouladen, but I can’t stand the usual pickle stuffing)!!
    My way of showing love by cooking is boeuf bourguignon, because it is super labor intensive, and needs time, but always comes out stellar.

    1. I love Rouladen, too, Oliver–even the pickle stuffing (but then, maybe I only like it when Ken makes it….). And yes, these remind me of those. And now I’m thinking about a world of riffs on this–, Frenchify it with a stuffing made of mushrooms, carrots and onions (and a little bread crumb, and simmer it in beefy wine sauce. Thai it up by stuffing it with jasmine rice, potatoes & pineapple and simmer it in yellow curry-coconut milk sauce. Give it a northern India flare–basmati rice, peas, carrots, onion–sauced with a rogan josh style curry.. I see endless possibilities here…
      When we get together, you make the boeuf bourguignon. Ken will make the jaeger schnitzel. Nina can make Thai. I’ll make something seasonal and locally sourced. That means we’ll have to spend at least 4 days cooking (that’s a lot of love)..

      1. Oh man, that sounds like an awesome plan! I already cannot wait! 🙂
        My preferred way of making rouladen is with a mustard/tomato paste sauce inside, stuffed with bacon and onions. I love the mushroom idea, that should work miracles in there…yum.

    1. Oh, it’s definitely delicious, B. It’s the kind of meal that garners a reverent silence for the first couple of minutes. No one speaks, although the most verbally expressive types can’t help murmuring a grateful “mmmmm.”

    1. Italian offers so much more than spaghetti and meatballs (but I do like a meal of that once a year or so–for nostalgia’s sake). We’re fortunate to have three Italian markets on Atwells Avenue. Between them, you can find almost any kind of Italian-American specialty, made up (including fresh stuffed pastas and various sauces), to take home and cook. It’s a good thing I don’t live on Atwells Avenue (I considered buying a condo there). Too tempting for me. I’d get lazy and fat.

  2. What a fantastic recipe! I can only imagine what a wonderful surprise the stuffing and the cheese is when you bite into the meat. Definitely adding this one to my “things to cook” recipe list. I think Matt would easily fall in love with this dish 🙂
    My way of showing love in the kitchen is usually by making some type of cake for someone. I always feel like its a real treat to have a homemade cake for a special occasion. Or sometimes for no reason at all!

    1. I also think the right cake is such a special treat. It has been way too long since I’ve made a cake. I planned on baking up my triple chocolate special for my/our birthdays (a milk chocolate genoise jelly-rolled around white chocolate whipped cream, frosted with bittersweet ganache), but then I got shingles and didn’t have the energy.
      I guess I’m just going to have to make a non-occasion cake sometime soon. You and Matt ought to come over and help us eat it! Let me know when you plan on visiting Providence.

  3. Your braciola photos are tempting. It looks and sounds like a wonderful meal. Our special meals are: golampki (pigs in the blanket, cabbage rolls), pot roast, ratatouille or spaghetti with marinara sauce. All are comfort foods we enjoy.

      1. You want it. You got it. I might have misspelled it. My ancient recipe has it as “Golampi,” but I’m pretty sure it’s golampki.
        Ingredients: head of cabbage, 1 lb. hamburger, 1/2 lb. ground pork, 2 uncooked eggs, 1/2 cup Uncle Ben’s converted rice and 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper to taste. Also 2 cans (15 oz. each) of stewed tomatoes, 1 can of tomato soup and 1 can filled with the cabbage water.
        Steam the head of cabbage in water until leaves are tender enough to roll. Cut rind off back and loosen leaves from core as you proceed.
        Mix hamburger, pork and eggs.
        Cook rice and water until most of water is absorbed. Stir.
        Mix above ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
        Wrap mixture – about the size of a golf ball – in cabbage leaves. Put extra tough leaves (outer) on bottom of pan to prevent sticking. Add, stewed tomatoes, tomato soup and cabbage water.
        Cook on top of stove for 4 to 5 hours at low heat (covered) in a huge pot.
        I’ve also cooked this in the Crock Pot. It’s even better reheated.

  4. Your photos really help! It sounds and looks fantastic.
    I think I’ll always choose Indian when I want to show love in the kitchen – it takes time, care and always tastes fabulous.

  5. Everything you do, Tracy, you do with love. Your recipes and recommendations about places to stay and what to enjoy, are all framed in love, as well as you works-in-progress Christmas presents, your posts, and your comments on other posts. This Braciola recipe and the pictures are yet another example of the care and love you invest in all you do.

  6. I am going to steal Marylin’s comment as she is absolutely right and I can’t say it any better! I haven’t eaten dinner yet and I’m famished so looking at your fab photos is torture! So delicious!
    Tracy, I know you don’t ‘do’ awards as such, but I nominated you for the Field of Flowers Award as you will see from my post and the sentiment behind it. Just consider it a gift from me to you to do with what you wish, and I hope that you are feeling much better…

    1. Aren’t you a dear heart?
      I’m in that up and down phase, during which I always get too excited about feeling good on the good days, overdo it, and then feel crummy the next day.
      Now that I’ve figured out that I still need to take it easy for the next week, I’m sure I’ll be climbing to the top of the mountain very soon. Thanks for the cheering-up! 🙂

  7. This looks really good! I was particularly taken with the first ingredient – sirloin steak! So I’m pretty sure it’s going to be good with all those herbs and bacon and cheese.
    I bet my daughter would love these! I will be trying out next time we get some steak.

    1. Often people use a cut of round, but my chef-husband turns his nose up at that. He thinks round is dry and tough.
      These were so good, I keep dreaming about the next time I can make them! They really are surprisingly good.
      They turned out to be too large for us–even four ounces per person was too much for us (we generally eat only 2/3 of a “normal” American serving size). Next time I’ll cut them in half and make four rolls. It’s a terrific way to stretch the meat.

  8. You give so much care to what you prepare, I can understand why commenters say you share your love with us. This is a very nice collection of comments and the recipe sounds delicious, your photos are great! Robin

    1. Oh, thank you, Robin.
      I do think that love is what it’s all about. But I tend to be shy and reserved, and don’t always feel like I’m doing a very good job of communicating what’s in my heart.
      This is such an affirmation to me. Thanks for helping to make this a very special day for me!

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