A Sort-of-Top-Secret Family Recipe…Ssshhh!

My family and I spent a very busy day together yesterday cleaning and decorating the house for the holidays. We were all in need of a little R&R by the time evening came along, so we decided to finish our day with one of our favorite Sunday activities: making dinner together. My husband and daughter did most of the work to prepare our Italian feast of braciole and pasta. I took a lot of pictures. The recipe and photos follow. The back story is that this is a recipe my husband’s family (his paternal grandfather is Italian) has made for years. In the 18 or so years we’ve been together, he’s tweaked it considerably.

(Disclaimer: My husband would not allow me to blog the specific spices of his recipe for pasta sauce. Sometimes you have to just listen to your own palate. But he did say that with spices — such as thyme, for instance — less is always more.)

Pasta Sauce

4 28-oz. cans of Italian peeled tomatoes (purée by hand)
7 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 small onions, chopped
Salt and pepper

Sauté onions in olive oil until almost translucent. Add garlic. Continue to sauté until garlic softens. Add puréed tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the spices of your choice (see disclaimer above and remember that the braciole will cook in the sauce and add a TON of flavor). Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally while you prepare the braciole.


2 lbs. very thin flank steak (1/4 inch or thinner)
1/2 a bunch of parsley, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup dried parmesan
1/4 stick butter
Salt and pepper

Lay out the flank steak on a clean surface (cutting board or counter). Cut into sections long enough to roll.

Sprinkle each piece of steak with enough salt and pepper to cover it liberally.

Evenly add parsley, garlic and parmesan to insides of each section of meat (allow enough uncovered outside space for folding).

Tightly roll each section of steak, folding the spices into the meat as you roll it. Insert toothpicks to hold braciole in place.

Take a moment to kiss your co-chef — if appropriate.

Sauté braciole in 1/4 stick of butter and enough olive oil to cover pan for 20 minutes (10 minutes on each side — long enough to brown).


After the braciole and sauce are ready, add the meat to the sauce and deglaze the meat pan with red wine. Add deglazed drippings to sauce.

Let sauce simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve with pasta.