Why Timing Is So Important For Perfect Braciole, According To An Italian Chef

plate of braciole
plate of braciole - from my point of view/Shutterstock

Italian cuisine is so much more than just pasta and tomato sauce. A great way to explore Italian flavors off the beaten path is with a plate of spicy beef braciole. Braciole is a dish that involves wrapping tender beef around a savory filling that gets slow-cooked in a red sauce for several hours. To understand more about this incredible dish, we talked to Anthony Scotto, chef and owner of Pelato and Luogo in Nashville.

"Preparation is key," Scotto told us. "Cooking it long enough that the fat in the meat starts to break down but not too long that the meat dries out and becomes tough." It's the slow food way, cooking with intention and allowing flavors to naturally develop. This way of cooking allows you to use a wider array of beef cuts as well since you can soften up any cut you like over a long period of time as opposed to relying on the meat itself to be perfectly tender from the start. This means you can save some money by purchasing more affordable cuts of steak that tend to get overlooked because of how lean they are. Properly prepared, they will end up as tender as a top-tier Wagyu.

"We brown the braciola on all sides," Scotto went on. "And place in our homemade tomato sauce and cook for four to six hours. You must have patience! There are no shortcuts for cooking this dish, it's a labor of love."

Read more: 26 Types Of Pasta Sauce Explained

Use A Tender Touch

beef braciole with garnish
beef braciole with garnish - AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock

If you try to cook braciole quickly, you're going to end up with a dense brick to chew through instead of the tender beef roll we're going for. Slow cooking is a crucial component that can't be overlooked. That makes this a difficult dish to prepare on a weekday but perfect for a relaxed Sunday afternoon. Simply prepare the ingredients ahead of time, set it, and forget it. Slow cooking is forgiving since a few minutes under heat doesn't have the same impact as it would if the beef was sitting on the stove, but you'll want to make sure you don't cook it too long or that tender steak could turn tough.

A proper cook time isn't the only way to elevate this dish though. Pounding the beef before cooking is a step you can't overlook when making braciole if you want it to turn out perfect. Flank steak is the typical choice for this dish, and it benefits from a good pounding. Because we'll want to be able to wrap it nicely around the filling, having the meat loose and pliable is a must. Proper handling of the beef combined with plenty of time spent in the slow cooker will net you a recipe the whole family will want to return to again and again.

Read the original article on Tasting Table