Saturday, August 21, 2010

Food&Fiction: Everybody Loves Raymond and Braciole

Everybody Loves Raymond is actually my favorite television show. I've seen every episode at least four or five times, but I still watch it everyday. Ryan and I get a kick out of the way our relationship mirrors Ray and Debra's (though not so exaggerated of course) and I think every one can relate to family humor.

Everybody Loves Raymond and Braciole



I obviously can't review Everybody Loves Raymond quite the same way as I do a book, but I do think this clip pretty much sums it up:

Gosh I'm such a nerd, I'm already giggling.

Anyone who has seen an episode of Everybody loves Raymond knows that Debra's bad cooking is a recurring theme on the show. But on one episode, Debra actually makes a good dish:

Debra's braciole ends up causing a rift in the family so she stops making it, but the episode got me wondering what exactly braciole was. I had never had it and it turns out that braciole is pork or steak rolls that have been filled with some kind of filling and braised in tomato sauce. After learning that, I definitely had to give it a go.


I am pretty sure Debra specifically mentions that her dish is Pork Braciole, but this version is made with steak. (What I'd really like to try is braciole made with chicken. I can't help it. I just love chicken.) Even though there is a long cooking time, braciole is well worth it. There is just something special and wonderful about little steak bundles simmered in tomato sauce.


This recipe is from Anne Burrell and if you can't find thin cuts of top round then I would go with flank steak. You can see here that flank steak is much easier to get thin and even versus top round. The filling in this dish is golden, but you might want to consider making only about half since I had some left over. (I actually ended up using the extra filling, minus the bread, in my garlic bread. It turned out surprisingly good.) Instead of passing whole tomatoes through a food mill I used crushed tomatoes. If you plan on doing the same, I'd recommend adding some water to make sure your braising liquid isn't too thick (it will cook for three hours so the sauce will cook down anyways).

Would I make this again? Yes, but this is definitely a sometimes dish. I am looking forward to cooking this for friends or on a holiday though.


Anne Burrell says this recipe takes three hours but it took me closer to four. The time it took me to make the filling, make the beef rolls, brown the meat, and get the sauce going was a solid hour. Then my beef rolls simmered for three hours after that. (I know that seems like a huge amount of time, but it is kind of like making chili where all you need to do is check it periodically.) You can save time by buying your meat already thinly sliced if it's available.


Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced pancetta
1 large onion, finely diced
Kosher salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups day old Italian bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound spinach, stems removed and cut into chiffonade
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated provolone
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 pounds top round, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 12)

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 (32-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes, passed through the food mill
2 cups water

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Special equipment: toothpicks


1. 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.

2. While the onions are cooking, in a large bowl, combine the bread and the milk. Toss to combine and let sit until the bread has absorbed the milk and is very soft. Use your hands to get in there and really squish everything together. Reserve.

3. Add the garlic to the pan with the pancetta and onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt, to taste, and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have let off their moisture, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the spinach.

4. Add the onion/mushroom mixture to the reserved bread and stir to combine. Add the pine nuts, 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.

5. Lay the beef slices between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound with a meat mallet to flatten and even out the slices. Put about 1/4 cup of filling on 1 end of each of the pounded beef slices and roll up. Secure the rolls with toothpicks. Repeat this process with the remaining beef and filling.


6. Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and put over medium-high heat. Season the beef rolls with salt, to taste, and brown them on all sides. When the beef rolls are brown on all sides, remove them from the pan and reserve. Make the sauce in the same pot.

7. Sauce: Remove the oil from the pot that the beef was just browned in. Add a light coating of fresh olive oil and add the onions and crushed red pepper. Season with salt, to taste, and put the pot over medium heat. Sweat the onions until they are translucent and very aromatic, 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 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, and 2 cups of water and season with salt, to taste.

8. Return the beef rolls to the pan and snuggle them into the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is very tender and flavorful, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove the toothpicks before serving. To serve, arrange 2 or 3 braciole on each serving plate. Halve 1 or 2 rolls to expose the stuffing. Spoon on some of the sauce and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano and chopped parsley.


  1. I hope to make this recipe.

    More importantly, you like Everybody Loves Raymond? I'm not dissing. It just doesn't fit with my whole PICTURE OF YOU. You're totally making me feel more comfortable about my reality tv problem.

    Thank you.

  2. haha now I'm curious as to what you think I'm like. I mean, besides wonderful. ;)

    I feel like I can come off as kind of uptight on Random Thoughts. (It is actually one of the reasons I started this blog, though you should see the look on people's faces when I tell them I have two blogs lol.) I have a lot of different interests and since RT is only about some of those interests it only reflects part of who I am. And after a while, what you leave out becomes as personifying as what you share I guess.

  3. I saw this episode the other day. Deborah was explaining to Frank about the sweetness that some people use raisins, but she uses currants. I dont see any in this recipe unfortunately :(

  4. Oh you're right, but like I said this is just a braciole recipe that was inspired by the show. Now the actual recipe. I didn't even notice that though!

  5. Debra definitely says "I made Braciole, you know stuffed beef" So your recipe is definitely right. As for the currants, has a recipe with them in.