Braciole (also spelled as Brasciole) are a typical dish from the province of Bari in Puglia. Braciole are bundles of beef, stuffed with a mixture of parsley, garlic, and cheese, and then cooked low and slow in a tomato sauce. As with many Italian recipes there are variations. According to the Italian wikipedia it is supposed to be made with horse meat rather than beef and with the addition of lard (probably because horse meat is very lean). You could also use red wine rather than wite, or basil rather than oregano. Even though this dish seems very similar to the version from Naples (meat cooked in tomato sauce), the parsley and cheese give it a very different fresher flavor.
To make a complete dinner out of the braciole, you can use part of the sauce to serve over pasta first, and then serve the meat with the remaining sauce and a green salad. The traditional pasta shape for this would be orechiette (the pasta shape most eaten in Puglia), but I like the sauce-absorbing qualities of fusilli better.
This is the version from Biba Caggiano’s “Modern Italian Cooking” is made with sirloin, i.e. tender and lean beef. You could also use a tougher cut of beef and cook them for a longer time.
2 slices of beef sirloin, pounded thin (ask your butcher for scaloppine from beef rather than veal), about 300 grams (.66 lbs)
1 can peeled tomatoes (400 grams/14 oz)
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 Tbsp freshly grated pecorino or parmigiano
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
Combine parsley, garlic, and cheese in a small bowl. Stir until homogeneous.
Season the beef slices with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides.
Spread out the parlsey-garlic-cheese mixture on the beef slices.
Roll them up tightly and secure with toothpicks.
Heat olive oil and add the beef bundles. (I should have used a smaller pan. It is best to use a pan in which the beef bundles fit more snugly.)
Take the beef bundles out of the pan. Discard any excess olive oil. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Cook over medium heat until reduced to less than half. Use a wooden spatula to scrape the browned bits off the bottom.
Puree the tomatoes in the food processor and add them to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lower the heat and add the beef bundles.
Cover with the lid slightly askew and cook over very low heat for 1 hour. The sauce should become thicker and darker.
Add the oregano, stir and cook for a few minutes longer.
If the sauce is not thick enough, remove the beef bundles and simmer it down, uncovered, over medium heat. Return the beef bundles and let them reheat over low heat.
You can use part of the sauce to serve over pasta. Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions and toss it with part of the sauce and freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino.
Serve on warm plates, sprinkled with parsley and more grated cheese.
Serve the beef with the remaining sauce and a green salad (dressed simply with good extra virgin olive oil, salt, and good wine vinegar). Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks.
This is good with a red wine from indigenous grapes from the province of Bari with good acidity: Castel del Monte, or another red made from Uva di Troia grapes. Wines made from other indigenous grapes with good acidity like Gaglioppo or Aglianico would also work, also if they are from Campania or Calabria rather than Puglia. Primitivo or Negroamaro wines such as Salice Salentino or wines made with new oak are be too heavy and would overpower the fresh flavors of the braciole.
17 thoughts on “Braciole alla Barese (Stuffed Beef Bundles)”
Very interesting. I had never come across this dish before
All the way from the Netherlands to Bari Puglia! Hi, I am Valentina, born in Bari and author of three books, one of which is about Puglia cuisine and has the recipe of Braciole alla Barese. I am so delighted and impressed to see you can cook them so well. Did you learn the recipe in culinary school, or you went to Puglia and fell in love with the food? If you are interested in my cuisine book, take a look on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9agl5v9 – Thank you for doing it the right way.
Ciao Valentina! Grazie per i tuoi complimenti. Sono curioso: le tue braciole sono come le mie, oppure fai qualcosa di diverso?
Sono stato in Puglia e mi è piacuto tantissimo la cucina. Anche la gente è simpatica laggiù.
What I like about your posts is that you do things I’ve not seen before – keep it going (if you don’t run out of ideas (I am starting to)
Great recipe, Stefan, beautifully prepared. Your “stuffing” is much like Mom’s, hence the reason she liked Biba’s cooking so much.
Thanks John. The interesting thing is that I’ve had this book for 15 years, and this was the first time I’d made this particular dish. I’ll definitely make it again as I really liked the stuffing.
Great recipe and very authentic. I live in Bari and it’s very unusual to see a recipe from here abroad. The horse version is probably the most common Sunday lunch here. We usually eat the sauce with orecchiette. I’m hungry and it’s only Monday 🙂
Grazie 🙂 Adesso dovrei assolutamente farle con cavallo e orechiette…
Impeccable technique. Love to watch you cook. I bet this was one incredibly flavorful meal.
Thanks Richard for the very nice compliment 🙂
Stefan, scusa per la mia risposta in ritardo, sono stata in vacanze in Puglia. Braciole made of horse meat are not the norm. People down there eat horse meat only if they are anemic, otherwise braciole are always made with beef. Origano is not used, only parsley in the mixture and basil in the sauce. To answer you question, yes your braciole are like mine. La cucina Pugliese si fa onore. Bravo!
Thanks so much for letting me know, and no problem about the delay. I will make them with basil next time.
Spero che ti sia piaciuto le tue vacanze in Puglia 🙂
Hai mai mangiato da Antichi Sapori a Montegrosso (in Puglia)? Mi piace tanto la cucina Pugliese 🙂
Certo che ho mangiato li, ma anche la mia citta’ di Bari, specialmente la Bari vecchia ha tanti ristoranti tipici e caserecci. I am attaching a link for the trip to Puglia I am organizing. Spread it around, please. Perhaps some of your friends would lie to join us. Ciao. http://valentinaexpressions.com/trips-2/
First, I would like to thank you for sharing our recipes, and preparing them the way they are supposed to be made.Goed gedaan!
In any case, I would disagree with Valentina. The most traditional version is with horse meat. But of course beef/veal meat is commonly used as well.
A small difference is that we cook it more than one hour in my family. I like it when the meat is very soft, but I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste.
Besides, that salad fits perfectly 😉 Did you find out that it’s pretty standard in our recipes, or what?
Hi Francesco, thanks for visiting and leaving such a nice message. I did notice that salad is a favorite contorno for this dish. I can see why your family would like to cook it longer. If I can find meat that is less lean, I would too! The horse or beef as I can get it here is so lean that it will turn really dry if I cook it too long.