Braciola (Italian Beef Rolls in Tomato Sauce)
Many of my favorite memories are of the epic Sunday dinners at my grandparents' house in Philadelphia. My grandmother, Nancy DiRenzo, would be up at dawn cooking. By 2:00 p.m., family would start piling in for what would inevitably become a six-hour meal; guests spilled from the dining room to the kitchen to the living room, eating off folding TV trays. The centerpiece was the rich tomato gravy. What gave it its heft were the meats that Grandmom cooked in it: pork sausages, meatballs, and my favorite, braciola. The dish is a lean cut of beef pounded thin, then spread with a layer of grated cheese, fresh herbs, bits of prosciutto, raisins, and pine nuts, then rolled, tied, seared, and simmered for hours in tomato sauce.