Is That a Braciola in Your Pocket . . .

Recently while reading the Bob Spitz book, the Saucier’s Apprentice (W.W. Norton, 2008), Spitz repeatedly mentioned a dish called Braciola.  But he never went into detail what it was other than a very common dish in Italy.  The problem was I live in a part of the country with very few Italians so my knowledge of Italian food growing up was lasagna and spaghetti.  Ironically, neither are that common in Italy where they tend to eat dishes like Braciola more often.  So I went to wikipedia and looked it up:

Braciola (plural braciole) is the name of an Italian dish. Braciole are simple thin slices of beef pan fried in their juice, or in a light amount of olive oil. It is, probably, one of the simplest dishes in Italian cooking; served with a green salad or boiled potatoes

In Italian American cuisine, braciole (the word is commonly pronounced /bra’zhul/ from the Sicilian pronunciation) is the name given to thin slices of meat (typically pork, chicken, or beef, but even swordfish) that are rolled with cheese and bread crumbs and fried; the bread crumbs are often left off, and the braciole are cooked along with meatballs and Italian sausage in Sunday gravy. They can be served with tomato sauce, or even plain. There exist many variations on the recipe. Changing the type of cheese and adding assorted vegetables (such as eggplant) can drastically change the taste. Braciole are not eaten as a main dish, but as a side dish at dinner, or in a sandwich at lunch.

What are known as braciole in the United States is named involtini in original Italian cuisine. Involtini are thin slices of beef (or pork, or chicken) rolled with a filling of the Parmesan cheese, eggs to give consistency and whatever additional ingredients (other cheeses, ham, bread crumbs, mushroom, onions, sausage, etc.) are available. Involtino (singular) originates from the word “voltare” (to turn), as in the action or rolling the meat around the filling (as in rolling a sheet of paper for storage). One involtino is held together by a wooden toothpick, and the dish is usually served (in various sauces: red, white, etc.) as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to toss the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal.

The word is also used in Italian-American slang as a reference to the male reproductive organ. An example of this usage is in The Sopranos episode “Second Opinion”.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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