Braciole: Italian Beef Rolls for Dinner

My grandmother came to this country as a young woman in the 1920s to wed my grandfather, who had been her childhood sweetheart some 8 years before, when they both lived in the same small town in Sicily. She left her family behind, but brought with her the knowledge of how to cook the Italian food that she grew up with and that my grandfather loved so well.

As a child, one of my favorite dishes that my grandmother, and then my mother, would make at home was called braciole (meat rolls with a surprise filling in the center).  The recipe for my family’s braciole and the tomato sauce to cook them in was originally posted on 5/9/16 on the Learn Italian! blog for Stella Lucente, LLC  and Below is an excerpt. Click on the link for the recipe!

I’d love to hear if your family makes this dish and your favorite recipe!

Italian beef rolls—involtini di carne,  also known as braciole, bracioli, or  bruciuluni (in Palermo Sicilian dialect)—are a favorite southern Italian treat that are often served for the Sunday family dinner. What I enjoy most about this dish is that there are so many different variations, and every family that makes braciole has its own special traditional recipe. My family hides a whole hard-boiled egg in the center for a surprise when the braciole is cut open. Other families chop the egg in half or into smaller pieces, and some families do not use egg at all!

By the way, I am not sure of the origin of the word braciole used here in America, but in Italy, braciola refers to a cut of pork (usually grilled), and this dish can be made with pork cutlets. My friend Peter Palazzolo from the Speak Sicilian! Facebook group mentioned to me that long ago this rolled-up meat was cooked with grapevine twigs cured like coal, or bracia. But, I think my friend and Italian teacher Maria Vanessa Colapinto (blog eleganza per me), is correct with her idea that the real origin of this word comes from the Italian for the old-type grill that the rolled-up meat for this dish was cooked on. This grill is still used today and is called a “brace.” Meat cooked in this way is “all’abrace,” or “on the grill.”

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