RECIPE

Spinach Stuffed Braciole in a Sunday Sauce with Pappardelle

This is really two recipes in one, as we’ve also included Open-Face Sausage, 3 Pepper and Onion Sandwiches with Provolone! You’ll see that it makes sense to prepare them on the same day.

Ingredients

For the Braciole:

  • 1 box chopped frozen organic spinach (10 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants or chopped raisins
  • 2-3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly shredded
  • 4 pieces thin-cut top round veal or beef, pounded very thin (8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

For the Sunday Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf
  • A few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • A few sprigs fresh sage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large can San Marzano tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausage or a combination of both
  • 1 package pappardelle pasta (8 ounces) or egg tagliatelle (12 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A generous handful of fresh sweet basil leaves, torn or shredded
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the Open-Face Sausage, 3 Pepper and Onion Sandwiches with Provolone

  • 1 large loaf ciabatta bread
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 portabella mushroom caps
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound Italian hot or sweet sausage or a combination of both sausages in Sunday Sauce (use the sausage included in the Stuffed Braciole recipe, above)
  • 12 ounces sharp provolone cheese, shredded
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Preparation

For the Braciole: Defrost, drain, and wring the frozen organic spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel and separate with your fingertips while adding to a mixing bowl. Season the spinach with salt, black pepper, and a little nutmeg. Add the chopped hard boiled eggs, currants, pine nuts, finely chopped garlic and cheese to the bowl and gently combine. Season the meat with salt and pepper and arrange each steak with one of the narrow ends near you. Divide the filling evenly among the meat slices. Scatter the filling over the meat, leaving a 1/2-inch edge or border on the sides. Fold the edge over the filling and tuck in the edges as you roll each bundle to secure the filling. Wrap and roll the remaining bundles and secure with kitchen twine to cover the ends and middle, like wrapping a package.

Heat a large Dutch oven with 2 tablespoons EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Brown the meat bundles for 6-8 minutes to evenly caramelize the meat all over.

For the sauce: Remove the bundles from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more EVOO, giving a turn of the pan to coat. Add the carrot, onion, garlic and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes to soften, then stir in the rosemary and sage for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir to develop the fragrance, then add the white wine and scrape up the pan drippings. Stir in the chicken stock and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher. Bring the sauce to a bubble, add the meat back to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 2 hours more, stirring occasionally.

After 2 hours, brown the sausages in a frying pan with a tablespoon of EVOO, a turn of the pan. Add the browned links to the sauce and gently submerge them, nestling them in with the meat bundles. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes more to cook the sausages through and combine their flavor into the sauce.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a cup of starchy cooking liquid just before draining.

Remove the meat bundles to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove the sausages to a separate plate to cool.

Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot. Add 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces, and half of the sauce. Toss to combine, adding a little starchy cooking water to make it all come together. Cut the string from the meat and serve the meat dotted with more sauce and sprinkled with fresh parsley on large dinner plates with hot pappardelle pasta topped with fresh basil and some shaved Parm alongside.

Cook’s Note: Reserve the sausages and any remaining spoonfuls of sauce for a make-ahead meal later in the week.

To make the Open Faced Sausage, 3 Pepper and Onion Sandwiches with Provolone:

If you are cooking a make-ahead meal with bread that will not be used for a couple of days, place it in the freezer in an airtight bag or wrap well. Unwrap to defrost at room temperature and then the crust in a warm oven.

Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, cubanelle peppers, chili pepper and garlic and sauté to tender-crisp, 5 minutes more.

Cook’s Note: Do not salt the onions and peppers, as it will draw more liquids out and your need to undercook a bit for a make-ahead meal.

Cool and store the mushroom mixture. To reheat the mushroom mixture, add a splash of stock or water over medium heat and season with salt and pepper.

To reheat the sausages: Add a splash of stock or water to the sausages to loosen the sauce. Add a ladle of sauce to the mushroom pan.

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.


Split the bread horizontally, then halve into four large pieces. Arrange the bread pieces on cooling racks set over baking sheets to allow the heat to circulate all around the bread. Halve the sausages lengthwise. Dot the bread with sauce, top with the sausages cut-side-down, dot with more sauce and top with peppers and cheese. Bake the bread for 12-15 minutes, or until melted and brown at the edges. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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Rachael Ray