There is nothing I hate more than ordering something at a restaurant and being told, "I'm sorry we're all out of that". It's hard enough for me to order at restaurants and when I finally make up my mind of what I really want, it is very disappointing to here those words. Now I need to go back and choose again, only this time I am on the spot and everybody is waiting on me. No matter what I order at this point it isn't going to be my first choice and my meal is always going to be a little off. This happened to me last week while out at one of my favorite Italian joints. I ordered Braciole and they were all out, I had never had Braciole before so I really didn't know what I was missing. I settled on the linguine with clam sauce but I have been thinking about Braciole ever since.
I have never eaten Braciole before, I have heard about it and wanted to try it for some time now. So I figured it was time to try making it. I read a few recipes and found out that Braciole is a classic Italian dish that each region of Italy makes there own way. It is a common Sunday meal and is usually made with thin slices of beef but sometimes made with pork or chicken. It should come as no surprise to anyone that mine is made with venison. When I looked at all the different recipes there were two things that stood out to me. Some of the recipes called for a large piece of meat like flank or brisket and the others called for small cutlets of meat. I chose to go with a large venison roast, cut flat and pounded out just a little.
Venison is very lean and can become a little stringy when slow cooked because it has almost no fat. Inside of my braciole I put down a layer of guanciale, which is the salt cured jowl of a hog. Guanciale is almost all fat and added the fat that was needed, it also added a little salty porkiness that never hurts. After spreading the mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan, provolone and parsley over the guanciale you roll the meat up and tie it up nice and tight. It is important to season your food at all stages of cooking so at this point I gave the roast a light dusting of powdered cinnamon and salt. Cinnamon and venison work incredibly well together and gives the whole dish and very pleasant sweetness without being to sweet.
The next step is to brown the roast on all sides in some olive oil, once it is browned remove it from the pan and add a medium sized onion, finely diced, and a few cloves of garlic. Once the garlic and onion are soft add the roast back and add one quart of tomato sauce. Put it in a 275 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours, what you end up with is an absolutely heavenly meal. My venison was as tender and succulent as any venison I have ever had. One of the unexpected bonuses was how wonderful the sauce was, everything came together beautiful. I am not sure if this dish needs much improving but I think I would like to make it again using small cutlets instead of one big roast. I like the idea of serving small one or two bite pieces as an appetizer.
One 3-4 pound venison roast (filleted open and pounded down to about 1 inch thickness
5-6 slices of guanciale or bacon if you don't have guanciale
4 slices of provolone cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic smashed
1 quart tomato sauce
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
enough butchers twine to tie up your braciole
1. cut your roast open and lay it flat, then pound it out so that it is about 1 inch thick
2. layer the guanciale or bacon then the provolone on top of that, mix together the parsley, Parmesan and breadcrumbs, then spread that mixture evenly on top of the provolone.
3. roll the roast into a tight spiral and tie it up with butchers twine.
4. sprinkle the cinnamon over the outside and sprinkle with salt.
5. heat the olive oil in a heavy Dutch oven then brown the braciole on all sides.
6. remove the braciole and set aside, then add the onion and garlic and saute until soft.
7. place the braciole back the Dutch oven and add the tomato sauce
8. place in a 275 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours. then slice one inch thick pieces cover with sauce and serve.