Braciole alla Barese Sous-Vide

A simple but great dish from the city of Bari in Southern Italy (in the region of Puglia) is Braciole alla Barese, which can be prepared using either beef or horse meat. Thin slices of beef are stuffed with garlic, parsley, and cheese, rolled up, and braised in tomato sauce. I absolutely love this dish, but I thought it could be even better when prepared sous-vide. In the traditional preparation the meat is braised and thus cooked well done; with sous-vide it is possible to ‘braise’ the meat in the tomato sauce to medium rare. There’s only one way to find out, and that is to simply try it. It turned out delicious, and without putting down the regular version, which is great, the sous-vide version to me is absolutely superior. The meat is more juicy and the whole dish has a ‘fresher’ taste. Roll up the beef bundles as in the regular recipe and brown them in hot olive oil.

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After browning, take the beef bundles out of the pan to cool off.

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Deglaze the pan with red wine.

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Cook, scraping with a wooden spatula to get all the browned bits into the sauce.

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Add tomatoes that have been whizzed in the food processor.

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Cook over medium low heat until the tomato sauce has a nicely thick consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Put the beef bundles in a ziploc bag with the tomato sauce and some fresh basil leaves. Close the ziploc bag with as little air as possible using the water displacement method.

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Cook sous-vide for an hour at 39.5C/103F.

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Increase the temperature to 49.5C/121F and cook for another hour. At these temperatures the enzymes responsible for ‘aging’ the meat are most active. This will make the meat more tender without ‘cooking’ it. I call this process ‘warm aging’ and it is a great way to make beef more tender without cooking it beyond medium rare.

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Cook for 3 hours at 55C/131F to cook to medium rare and pasteurize the beef.

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Serve the beef bundles with the sauce. In this case I served them over some green asparagus, roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper for 15 minutes at 225C/440F.

Just like with the traditional preparation, it is possible to serve 2/3 of the sauce with pasta first as a primo piatto, followed by the meat with the remaining 1/3 of the sauce as a secondo piatto.

For comparison, this is what the tradionally prepared braciole look like. As you can see, they are well done rather than medium rare.

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15 thoughts on “Braciole alla Barese Sous-Vide

  1. LOL …I imagine there are Italian grandmothers turning over in their graves over such new-fangled heresies 🙂 But, seriously, I can imagine the texture of the meat is far superior.

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  2. I don’t as yet own a sous-vide Stefan … but you sure make me want to get one asap with all these lovely recipes you have been posting! Re the comment by “Sybaritica” above, which is v. amusing of course, I think that the whole point of Italian home cooking is NOT to go to the bother of any ‘fuss’. So … yes … a sous-vide is a form of ‘fuss’ in a way … but then so are ALL inventions! Even the telephone served a different purpose when it first started out … http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/SciRefGuides/opera-technology.html … and who would dream of living without a telephone now?

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  3. I did look at the link, and do not abhor horse meat [daresay when times were tough in my early childhood, I was presented with such 🙂 !] and gently laughed that these looked just like the meatrolls I had on my plate when just a tadpole in N Europe . . . and then looked at how we now make things different and interesting . . . thank you! Keeping it in mind!!

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    • Thanks Mimi, yes you can. It works best if the sauce is already at the desired temperature (otherwise it could take long for all of the sauce to reach the target temperature). You should also take into account that juicier meat means that less meat juices will end up in the sauce. This is great for the meat, but not so great for the sauce.

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  4. I can only imagine what my Mom would say if she could see this. She wouldn’t be against it, not in the slightest. She would most certainly be amazed, though. 🙂
    Well done, Stefan.

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