The Step You Can't Overlook When Making Braciole

Have you ever sampled braciole? If so, you're not likely to have forgotten this stunning Italian dish of tender rolls of beef stuffed with breadcrumbs and braised in tomato sauce. According to Learn Travel Italian, these beef rolls were traditionally grilled over an old-fashioned charcoal grill called a "brace," hence the name "braciole." Pronounced brah – chee – OH – lay in Italian (via YouTube), you might be better familiar with the Italian-American pronunciation of brah – ZOLE, popularized by the food-lovin' families of TV series "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Sopranos."

In the latter series, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007 (via IMDb), it seemed like family matriarch Carmella was cooking up a braciole for dinner every Sunday. So devoted to the pleasures of the dish was patriarch Tony that he once told a friend considering suicide "tie your shoes and have a bite of braciole," according to La Cucina Italiana. So there you have it, braciole is good for what ails ya. But if you want to whip up this iconic dish at home, make sure you bust out your meat mallet, first.

The beef for braciole needs to be pounded thin

If you've ever tucked into a fragrant plate of braciole, then you know the dish consists of a thin layer of beef — typically flank steak — rolled into a spiral around a breadcrumb filling that can be flavored with items such as grated cheeses, chopped fresh herbs, and even pine nuts and raisins (via From a Chef's Kitchen). After the meat is stuffed, the roll is secured with twine or toothpicks, seared, and then braised in tomato sauce. At the table, the meat is sliced into rounds, revealing the little pinwheel of filling inside.

Though a bit labor-intensive, braciole is not complicated to make at home and will even give you a bit of a workout. That's because prior to layering on the filling, the flank steak will need to be pounded thin, to a uniform 1/4-inch thickness, according to MasterClass. This step is crucial to achieving the tender, easy-to-slice end result we all seek in braciole, so you'll need to have a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy glass bottle on hand when preparing braciole. When it's braised and ready to eat, it'll be a sight to warm even Tony Soprano's heart.