Flank steak–split open, stuffed, and rolled–is the basis of aflavorful braised dish the Italians call braciola. This is a looseextension of the actual definition of the word, which means cutlet, andcomes from the way the steak is handled. Slices of the cooked meat have a pinwheel pattern, with Swisscheese and Italian sausage links in the center. As the meats cook,their juices flavor the tomato-wine sauce.
To serve, pour the sauceover hot spaghetti, then arrange sliced meat on top. Accompany with agreen salad. You can shape the meat roll a day ahead.
Brown the roll in oil,then simmer to tenderness. Serve braciola for a family supper or casualcompany dinner. Sausage and Cheese Braciola 1 large (about 1-3/4 lb.)flank steak 3/4 pound spinach 4 Italian sausage links (about 1 lb.
total) 6 ounces sliced Swiss cheese 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed 2tablespoons olive oil or salad oil Tomato sauce (recipe follows) 3/4 cupdry red wine Salt 1 pound dried pasta such as spaghetti or long macaroni Water About 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese Trim and discard fat from flank steak. To butterfly, lay steakflat and, with a sharp knife, split meat horizontally from a long side,leaving the opposite edge intact; fold half of meat back to open out thesteak. Place meat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with theflat side of a mallet until thickness is uniform. Discard stems and coarse leaves from spinach; rinse and draintender leaves. Cook sausages in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat,turning, until well browned on all sides; remove from pan. Discard allbut 1 tablespoon drippings. Add spinach to pan; cover and cook overmedium-high heat until leaves wilt, about 1 minute; stir, then removefrom heat.
To assemble, discard top piece of plastic wrap on steak. Distributespinach evenly over steak to within 1-1/2 inches of edges. Lay cheeseslices in a single layer in center of meat, then sprinkle with fennel. Starting at a narrow edge, place sausages parallel and in two rows,aligning them with grain of meat (trim sausage ends to fit within steak,if needed).
Roll steak around sausages into a tight cylinder. Usingheavy string, tie roll lengthwise, tucking ends of meat into center.Then tie roll crosswise as shown at right. If made ahead, cover andchill up to overnight. Pour oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan (wide enough to hold roll) overmedium heat. When oil is hot, add meat and brown well on all sides,about 10 minutes. Turn meat seam side up and pour tomato sauce and winearound it; add salt to taste. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat,cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender whenpierced, about 2 hours.
Lift meat out and let stand about 10 minutes tofirm. Skim fat off tomato sauce and keep sauce warm. Snip off string,then cut roll into 6 to 8 slices.
Meanwhile, cook pasta, uncovered, in 4 quarts boiling water untiltender to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well, then arrange on a servingplatter. Drizzle with about 1/3 of the tomato sauce and top with slicedmeat. Offer remaining sauce and cheese to spoon onto individualservings of braciola and pasta.
Makes 6 to 8 servings. Tomato Sauce. Stir together 1 large can (28 oz.) tomato puree, 1cup water, 1 clove garlic (minced or pressed), and 1 teaspoon each drybasil, dry oregano leaves, sugar, and pepper.