Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Braciole napoletane al sugo (beef rolls neapolitan way)

It's amazing how food and meals names can be so different from region to region of the same country.
I have been living my first 10 years in a small village near Napoli, southern Italy, and then moved north near Milan just until before I moved to United Kingdom. I can cleary see the difference in the meaning of food names between the Italian regions: one of these examples is 'braciola'.
In napoli it actually refers to these delicious beef rolls I am going to describe in the recipe below, while in norther Italy it refers to something rather different as it's the definition of a pork chop with rib just cooked in a pan or grilled.

I am actually going to show you my procedure to prepare these mouth watering  and succulent beef rolls, typical Sunday meal in Napoli. The neapolitan tradition in fact is to cook a 'ragu' sauce for the whole family, and forget the tinned ragu sauce you're used to's something completely different and it also reflects the philosophy of the neapolitan style: take it easy, be patient, and don't worry!

We can consider the neapolitan braciole as one of the several addition to the ragu : they can be part of it or they can simply be prepared in this way (you and your guests won't be disapponted!).

You will need:

fine cut beef steaks (I used about 430 grams for the picture above)
pine nuts
garlic crushed
parmesan cheese grated (if you can find pecorino cheese even better)
fresh chopped parsley (very important)
tomato passata one bottle
tomato paste
olive oil (a good Italian olive oil possibly)
a glass of white wine
salt and pepper
toothpicks  or cooking string to keep the meat in a roll shape while cooking

prepare the ingredients on a board and spread the chopped garlic, parsley, pine nuts all over each beef steak, sprinkle the grated  parmesan on top of it

form the rolls, and hold them in place with some toothpicks (or cooking string). Start 'sealing' the meat in a pan frying it first for some minutes with olive oil, then add 1/2 glass of white wine and let it dry

add the tomato passata sauce, and a couple of spoons of tomato paste (concentrated)...let it simmer for about one hour until the sauce is less liquid and has a nice brown colour to it.

Trick: you can use this as a double meal: use the sauce as condiment for some home made taglatelle and the meat as second course (this is what we do in Naples :)) 



  1. Lucia, I love these beef rolls and we have something similar in Poland, but stuffed with bacon, sausage and other stuff, served with gravy. Also I have seen something similar in Scottish cuisine, called beef olives. :) I definately going to use your recipe, as the meat looks delicious. Hope to se more exciting Italian recipes here. :) (btw last week I bought Giorgio Locatelli "Made in Italy. Food and stories" and I cannot wait to use it :) )

    Cheers from Yorkshire Dales!

  2. Fantastic dish. Just found your blog, look forward to following your kitchen escapades here.

    Be well

  3. Lucia, I as well just found your blog, I am looking forward to making Braciole napoletane! Ciao Ciao !!

  4. Just got to buy the pine nuts and passata and this will be cooked for our Sunday Lunch this week. I will let you know how it goes, cheers. Tim

  5. wow Tim! I hope you will enjoy it!
    You know this is a dish that causes a sort of emotional thunderstorm in me, as it was something my mum used to cook very often. Last Christmas I spent in Italy, my aunt prepared it and I ...started crying in fron of the whole (crowded) table. But those were happy tears hehehe, just making fun of myself when thinking back. Enjoy!

  6. This dish reminds me of childhood days at my Nonna's (she is also called Lucia!)
    Unfortunately she is too unwell to cook it nowadays but my ma still does.

    Thanks for posting this- I haven't got my ma around at the moment because I'm at uni so I'm attempting to cook it for myself for the first time!

    Fingers crossed it's not a disaster.


  7. My mom added golden raisins and salt and pepper. She then browned them in the oven and deglazed the pan and added the juices to the sauce. Yummm!!

  8. Cara mia, you have made an old man happy. Ever since I was a young boy, 68 years ago, I told Italian friends, here in Australia, that my Grandmother made a most wonderful dish called Brashol. They all looked at me strangely and shook their heads. I'm just so happy to find that it really does exist even if it's not pronounced the way we do. The recipe is almost exactly the same as my Grandmother's. Pine nuts are one thing we never had at that time although we have always used pecorino. It was my job to grate it. Olive oil was a problem in those days and I can remember my mother sending me to the Chemist (pharmacy) to buy a bottle that was sold for medicinal purposes. Good for babies' bums. A few Italian recipes have survived, the language long gone. My Grandmother was born in Australia in 1890. My Grandfather came here in 1912. Both originating from villages close together in Basilicata, Potenza (Marsicovetere and Viggiano). Lucia is a family name (Mother, sister and Greatgrandmother). My Grandmother, being born here, would only speak English to my Mother and her three brothers especially after their father died. Mum would tell us kids there were two fruitshops where she lived, one Aussies the other Italians, The Aussie one had a sign in the window "Shop here before the day goes". You may or may not know "dago" was a derogatory term used for Italians.
    But after an old man rambling on I want to say thank you again. If it wasn't for your blog I would still think my grandmother's dish didn't exist. Grazie Lucia, Paul.

  9. Hello Paul! I know this is a very late reply, but I just found your message. Your story really made my day, thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad this blog was useful to bring back such nice memories and prove that this recipe does exist! (oh yes! it DOES! I love it!). Although I hahve been trying to eat less meat recently, I am aware I could barely resist this one :) Thank you again!

  10. I got the same recipe from my aunt, but they add breadcrumbs and oil to the ingredients. If I had enough pine nuts I would try your way.