I watched Lidia, of Lidia's Italy fame, make this meal last year and I finally got around to trying it. Braciole is rolled meat, usually beef, that's pounded and filled with a light stuffing then cooked in tomato sauce. Lidia's lamb version is influenced by the Abruzzo region of Italy, where my father's family is from, so it had an immediate appeal to me. It's impossible for me to get Italian lamb at the moment so I used an Australian boneless leg of lamb, which is an excellent substitute. Their free range, grass-fed meats are delicious.
Italian-Australian Lamb Braciole:
One Australian boneless leg of lamb (I used a 1/2 a leg which is about 2 lbs.)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 cup of breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free)
Chopped fresh parsley
Sliced fresh basil leaves (4)
Pecorino Romano Cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 white onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded, or finely diced
2 (28 oz) cans of San Marzano canned tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
Fresh basil leaves (6-8)
Saute the onion and carrots in olive oil until soft. Add the canned tomatoes and break them up using your hands or a potato masher. Allow the sauce to simmer while you prepare the braciole.
Trim the excess fat off the lamb, then pound it with a meat mallet until it's of an even thickness.
Sprinkle with the garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and a healthy handful of grated pecorino romano cheese. Roll into a log and tie it up with kitchen twine.
Add the braciole to the tomato sauce and let it simmer for about 1.5 hours. Add the tomato paste and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the lamb begins to break apart when pierced with a fork. Add the basil leaves right before serving.
Like Lidia, I served mine over polenta. Prepare the polenta while the lamb is cooking as it takes a few hours to set up.
1 cup of polenta (I used Mulino Marino from Williams Sonoma)
4 cups of water
3 tbsp butter
1 cup of grated cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring the water to boil in a heavy saucepan. Salt the water, add the polenta, and stir as it cooks to avoid lumps.
Yes, you will need to continue stirring for the entire cooking time (30 minutes), but it's worth the effort. Once cooked, stir in the butter and grated cheese and pour into a baking dish to set up. Sprinkle a little pepper on top. The Mulino Marino brand comes from the Piedmonte region of Italy known for its high quality grains which produce a creamy, nutty flavored polenta.
Serve the sliced braciole over the polenta with tomato sauce and your favorite grated cheese. I can hear Lidia now, "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!"