Spicy Beef Braciole Recipe

Braciole is an Italian dish where beef steaks are rolled around a savory filling that may include bread, cheese, and even meat. According to recipe developer Cecilia Ryu, one of the best things about braciole is that "You can use a cheaper cut of meat to make a delicious meal." The reason why even tougher steaks work here is because the meat is slow-braised until it's tender, so you really don't have to worry about overcooking or drying out the meat.

Ryu does feel, however, that "The star of this dish is not only the meat but the sauce." She even adds a special ingredient to her hearty sauce: a piece of cheese rind. "After I am finished with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese," she tells us, "I freeze the rinds to use in soups or sauces." As she explains, a piece of cheese rind "really gives the dish a lot of flavor and depth." She does say, however, that you can leave the rind out if you don't happen to have one on hand.

Gather the ingredients for the spicy beef braciole

Braciole is a fairly complex dish, so it requires quite a few ingredients. In addition to the steaks, you'll need pancetta, onions, breadcrumbs, garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, parsley, and provolone for stuffing. The sauce includes olive oil, crushed tomatoes, Calabrian chile paste, red wine, basil, and the aforementioned cheese rind, plus you'll also need some salt and pepper for seasoning. If you want to garnish the braciole, you can use some extra parsley and basil, while you might also want extra grated cheese for the finished dish.

A few notes on possible substitutions: You can use top round instead of flank steak, bacon instead of pancetta, and a tablespoon of crushed red pepper in place of the chile paste, if need be.

Make the breadcrumb filling

Cook the pancetta over medium heat until it's crispy, then take it out of the pan and pour in a tablespoon of oil. Cook 1 cup of the onions in the oil until they're translucent, which should take about 5 to 7 minutes.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the minced garlic, grated cheese, and parsley, then stir in the pancetta and the cooked onions along with 2 more tablespoons of oil.

Stuff and sear the beef rolls

In order to make the steaks rollable, you'll first need to pound them flat. (Don't skip this step!) Once they're about ¼-inch thick, top each one with a piece of provolone and ¼ of the breadcrumb mixture. Roll up the stuffed steaks, then use toothpicks or metal skewers to pin them closed and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.

Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into the pan and heat it over medium-high. When the oil is hot, sear the beef rolls until they're brown on all sides. You may need to do this in a few batches unless you have an extra-large pan.

Simmer the rolls in red sauce

When all of the steak rolls are brown, take them out of the pan and pour in 2 more tablespoons of oil. Cook the rest of the onions for 5 to 7 minutes until they are translucent, then stir in the chile paste and smashed garlic. Cook the mixture for 2 minutes or until the chile paste looks darker. Add the wine and use it to de-glaze the pan, then cook the sauce for 5 minutes. Open up the can of tomatoes, pour it into the pan, then fill the can with water and dump that in, too. If you swish it around to rinse it out, you won't waste any of the tomato that sticks to the can.

Now put the meat back in the pan along with the cheese rind. Taste the sauce and add as much salt and pepper as you feel it needs. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and let the meat simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours. At the end of this time, it should be pretty tender.

Slice the beef rolls into manageable chunks

When at least 1 ½ hours of cooking time has elapsed, stir the basil into the sauce and taste it again, adding even more salt and/or pepper if necessary. Take the toothpicks or skewers out of the steak rolls, then cut these up into 1-inch pinwheels. Spoon the sauce over the braciole, garnishing the dish with any extra parsley or basil you have on hand. (This step is optional, so don't worry if you've used up either or both of the herbs.) You may also sprinkle the dish with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

To make a complete meal out of this dish, just add pasta. As Ryu tells us, "I cook a box of rigatoni or any small tubular pasta and mix it with the sauce." She then tops the sauce with ricotta or burrata and then puts the braciole on top. Leftover braciole can be refrigerated for three days, but if you need to keep it for a later date, you can always freeze it, too.

Spicy Beef Braciole Recipe
4.9 from 35 ratings
This spicy beef braciole features tender flank steak stuffed with a cheesy breadcrumb filling.
Prep Time
Cook Time
beef braciole on white plate
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 2 medium onions (about 2 cups), diced, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 cloves of garlic, 4 minced and 4 smashed
  • ¾ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus the rind
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 (1-pound) flank steaks, pounded thin
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Calabrian chile paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 10 basil leaves, torn into pieces
Optional Ingredients
  • additional parsley and basil, for garnish
  1. Cook the pancetta over medium heat until crisp.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the fat in the pan.
  3. Sauté 1 cup of onions for about 5-7 minutes, or until translucent.
  4. Combine the breadcrumbs, minced garlic, Parmigiano Reggiano, and parsley, then stir in the pancetta, sauteed onions, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  5. Pound the meat until each steak is about ¼-inch thick.
  6. Top each steak with a slice of provolone and ¼ cup of the breadcrumb mixture.
  7. Roll up the steaks and hold them closed with toothpicks or skewers.
  8. Season the steak rolls with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then sear the steaks on all sides until brown (work in batches if necessary).
  10. Remove the steak rolls and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan.
  11. Sauté the remaining onions for about 5-7 minutes, or until translucent.
  12. Stir in the chile paste and smashed garlic and cook for about 2 minutes until the chile paste has deepened in color.
  13. Pour in the wine and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  14. Cook the sauce for 5 minutes, then add the crushed tomatoes. Fill the tomato can with 1 cup of water and pour the tomato water into the pan.
  15. Return the meat to the pan and add the cheese rind.
  16. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, then bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the meat for 1 ½-2 hours, until tender.
  17. Stir in the basil leaves and add additional salt and/or pepper, if necessary.
  18. Remove the skewers from the beef and cut each roll into 1-inch pieces.
  19. Spoon the sauce over the meat, then garnish it with chopped parsley and fresh basil if desired. Serve right away.
Calories per Serving 1,497
Total Fat 88.4 g
Saturated Fat 32.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 365.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 39.4 g
Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
Total Sugars 13.6 g
Sodium 2,174.3 mg
Protein 123.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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