Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Dish worth time invested

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

The ingredients for stuffing braciola, or Italian beef rolls, can include raisins, butter, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, bread, salt and pepper. The rolls are cooked in a made-from-scratch tomato sauce.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

I first tasted braciola — Italian beef rolls — at the table of my friends Brad and Elise Yates of Honolulu, and the memory of the dish stayed with me for weeks, until I had to pester Elise for the recipe. "She's working on it," Brad promised — meaning that the old family recipe is so familiar to her that she doesn't have it written down.

Then I ran into Elise at Safeway and the conversation went something like this: "Oh, you don't need a recipe. Just take some bread crumbs, you know — dry some good bread in the oven if it's still fresh. And then I use some pine nuts and garlic and parsley and parmesan, and you can use raisins, but Brad doesn't like 'em. And then you just stuff it and cook it in the sauce."

Luckily, all this made sense to me, having tasted the dish.

This recipe creates leftovers: Some tomato gravy, which can be frozen or refrigerated for later use, and enough bread crumbs to make a quick pasta dish for supper another day (see recipe below). Or double the number of beef rolls and use all the sauce.

I tested this recipe with sukiyaki beef (very thin), unmarinated teriyaki beef (medium thin) and steaks pounded to very thin by hand. Teri beef worked best; pounding was noisy and time-consuming and it was difficult not to tear the meat.


  • Tomato gravy (recipe below)
  • One loaf of crusty Italian bread
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups Reggiano Parmegiano
  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 8 slices of thinly sliced teriyaki beef about 3 inches wide, 5-6 inches long
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons each olive oil and butter

Start the gravy on a back burner (see below).

If the bread is fresh, dry it first: Slice and place on cookie sheet in 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Process to crumbs in food processor along with the parsley and garlic. Or chop parsley and garlic and place breadcrumbs in zip-closure bag and crush with rolling pin, then mix the three ingredients.

Shred or grate Parmegiano (or buy it already shredded). Toast pine nuts (place in dry pan over medium heat; shake and heat, until fragrant and golden).

Toss together bread mixture, cheese, pine nuts and raisins.

Lay one piece teriyaki beef on cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place one slice of cheese on top. Pile one-third cup or so of bread-crumb mixture on cheese. Rolling, pressing filling in, and tie at either end with kitchen string (cotton) or secure with bamboo skewers. Don't worry if there are a few tears in the beef; these rolls stay together surprisingly well.

Heat butter and olive oil together in frying pan over medium heat. Using tongs, gently transfer 4 beef rolls to hot fat; brown on all sides. Repeat with remaining 4 rolls.

You will have 5 cups of gravy; remove 2 cups and set aside for another use; cook beef rolls in remaining 3 cups. Using tongs, place beef rolls into simmering tomato gravy. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, turning occasionally, for 2 hours. Serve hot, topped with sauce.

Serves 4.

This is Amelia Chun's standard "tomato gravy" recipe. It can used with pasta or other dishes.

Tomato Gravy

  • 6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons each olive oil and butter
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (sangiovese is nice)

Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or other wide, flat, heavy-bottomed pot and heat. Add garlic and onion, saute just until garlic is fragrant and onion is translucent (do not allow garlic to brown; if it browns, it's burnt).

Turn tomatoes into a bowl and pour them into the pan all at once (oil may splash up and tomatoes will sputter and spit). Partly cover (or cover with a spatter shield) and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until cooked down, thickened and glossy — 30 to 45 minutes. Add wine and cook again, until thickened and glossy — 35 minutes or so. Sauce should be piquant and lumpy-thick. Remove a couple of cups of sauce and use the rest to cook the bracciola.

Here's the recipe for using up those bread crumbs: For two servings, cook 1 cup shells or bowtie pasta until al dente. In small casserole dish, toss hot pasta with 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 1/2 cups bread crumb mixture. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until heated through. Serve as side dish; you can top with a bit of tomato gravy or parmesan cheese.