One of the things I’ve decided to focus on with these new cooking videos are dishes that I make at home all the time. Why? I figure that this whole video making thing is a giant learning curve. Between the filming, lighting, editing and writing, the one thing I don’t want to have to worry about is the recipe and cooking end of things. I’ve got these babies down. These are all dishes I’ve been making regularly for about 20 years or so.
Involtini is high up on this list. But I wasn’t always an involtini master. In fact, I’d never really even heard of them until Domenico’s mother made them for me on one of our first trips to Bari. If you’re an Italian American you probably grew up eating these (and probably called them braciole). Not me. I’d never really had them in Rome, since they are definitely from the more southern end of the Italian cooking spectrum.
Everyone has their own favorite recipe. They often include prosciutto and other types of cheeses. Some people make then big, some small. My mother-in-law’s version – which I’ve never veered from – is pure and simple. The only ‘stuffing’ is a bit of salt, pepper, parsley , olive oil and grated cheese. While she tends to stick to parmigiano, I sometimes substitute whatever hunk of pecorino I have at hand.
The trickiest part of the whole thing is the rolling-it-up bit. And remembering to put in all five ingredients (I always forget the olive oil!). After that, it’s just a matter of browning them, and then cooking them in tomato sauce. It’s that easy.
Much easier than making a film about it.
- ½ kilo / 1 pnd thinly sliced beef top round
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- 4 cups tomato puree
- Make each involtini by laying one slice of beef on a flat surface. Season it with salt and pepper, sprinkle some grated chese (about a tablespoon), a few leaves of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Roll it up and secure with a toothpick. Repeat until finished.
- Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan big enough to hold all of the involtini in a single layer. When hot, add the involtini and brown well on all sides. This browning is important since it will flavor the sauce. Season with salt and add the tomatoes, scraping up the browned bits with a spoon.
- Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 40 minutes or so. Add a bit of water if it’s getting too dried out. These are even better the following day.