Friday, January 2, 2015

The Gerwegian girl's braciole

I was so surprised the other day- at the grocery store they had the BIG pieces of round steak. The big ones- like I remember as a child, my mom slicing up and making pepper steak or stroganoff, or pounding the everloving life out of and smothering with cream-of-something soup and baking for a couple hours. Not the fanciest cut by any means, but certainly one of my favorite if for nothing but the memories. Anyway, there it was in the meat department beckoning to me to cook something really good.

If it was the right time of year, pepper steak would have been my first choice but in general I avoid certain kinds of grocery store produce in the winter, like tomatoes and peppers. It's just not the same as fresh from the garden or farmers market. Mushrooms, however, are available year round and pretty consistent PLUS they had a nice basket of fresh shiitakes begging to be taken home. Inspired by the recent picture a friend had shared with me, I decided a stuffed steak was in order.

What I ended up with is my own version of Braciole- without the Italian flavor profile. Mushrooms are a natural with steak and so easy to chop up and create a stuffing with. The shiitkes are a real treat to work with- once you pinch off and throw away the inedible stem they cut up into perfect firm little cubes of delicious. I chose cremini as my other mushroom (although I bought some of every kind they had in the store that day!), a little onion, garlic, some stale bread (do YOU keep your bread butts in the freezer for things like this?) and roll it up in some pounded out steak. Here is how I did it-

Mushroom Braciole

about 2 lb round steak (or similar- flat iron, flank steak, etc)
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
4 slices stale bread
1 tsp chopped thyme
8 oz mushrooms- I used shiitake and cremini
salt and pepper
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
olive oil
2 tb butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cut or tear the bread into small pieces and spread out to let it dry as much as possible, set aside for now.

Cut the meat into 6 equal portions. Pound using a meat mallet until flattened and even in thickness. Pounding out to the right shape is a little tricky but try to get the pieces as rectangular as possible. I was so busy pounding away The Chef finally asked me if I was ever going to be done or was I building a garage.......sigh...... Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and place in bowl. Clean the mushrooms, trim off the stem ends (remove tough shiitake stems) and chop into small dice and add to bowl. 

In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes until onions are softened and mushrooms begin to brown. Meanwhile, crumble the bread as much as possible in a medium bowl. Pour the mushroom onion mixture over and mix well. It might be a little dry, not like stuffing you'd serve at the holidays- that's ok, it doesn't need to be super moist.

Grab a piece of steak and place a scoop of the stuffing on it. Pat it and spread it out over the meat surface evenly, leaving a little edge uncovered. 

Roll up and secure with picks, or tie with string if you're especially handy like that. I use picks because, well..... I'm not. Continue with all pieces of steak until done. 

You might have some leftover stuffing. I did because I could only get 5 portions from my steak, and Louie enjoyed it thoroughly.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in that skillet you cooked the mushrooms in and brown the rolls on the outside; place in dutch oven or covered roaster/braiser. 

Mix the cornstarch into the beef broth while browning the meat and when done, deglaze the skillet with the broth. Whisk over medium high heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Ladle sauce over the braciole in the pot; cover and bake for one hour and 15 minutes.

When done, remove from oven and let rest a few minutes so the stuffing will firm up just a bit. Remove picks from rolls and slice. Serve with pasta, rice or potatoes and the sauce. I have been making this dish for years and years and it's one of my favorites. Not very "gourmet" but certainly delicious and an old family favorite. Oh, I almost forgot- the Gerwegian??  German and Norwegian of course!

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