You roll up sausage, cheese, spinach inside flank steak Essay

Flank steak–split open, stuffed, and rolled–is the basis of a
flavorful braised dish the Italians call braciola. This is a loose
extension of the actual definition of the word, which means cutlet, and
comes from the way the steak is handled.

Slices of the cooked meat have a pinwheel pattern, with Swiss
cheese and Italian sausage links in the center. As the meats cook,
their juices flavor the tomato-wine sauce. To serve, pour the sauce
over hot spaghetti, then arrange sliced meat on top. Accompany with a
green salad.

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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 casual
company 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 2
tablespoons olive oil or salad oil Tomato sauce (recipe follows) 3/4 cup
dry 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 steak
flat 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 the
steak. Place meat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the
flat side of a mallet until thickness is uniform.

Discard stems and coarse leaves from spinach; rinse and drain
tender 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 all
but 1 tablespoon drippings. Add spinach to pan; cover and cook over
medium-high heat until leaves wilt, about 1 minute; stir, then remove
from heat.

To assemble, discard top piece of plastic wrap on steak. Distribute
spinach evenly over steak to within 1-1/2 inches of edges. Lay cheese
slices 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. Using
heavy string, tie roll lengthwise, tucking ends of meat into center.
Then tie roll crosswise as shown at right. If made ahead, cover and
chill up to overnight.

Pour oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan (wide enough to hold roll) over
medium 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 wine
around it; add salt to taste. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat,
cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender when
pierced, about 2 hours. Lift meat out and let stand about 10 minutes to
firm. 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 until
tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain well, then arrange on a serving
platter. Drizzle with about 1/3 of the tomato sauce and top with sliced
meat. Offer remaining sauce and cheese to spoon onto individual
servings of braciola and pasta. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tomato Sauce. Stir together 1 large can (28 oz.) tomato puree, 1
cup water, 1 clove garlic (minced or pressed), and 1 teaspoon each dry
basil, dry oregano leaves, sugar, and pepper.


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