Leonardo Romanelli’s Braciole Fritte alla Fiorentina

Leonardo Romanelli's Braciola Fritta alla Fiorentina

Leonardo Romanelli’s Braciola Fritta alla Fiorentina

Though both are fried, Florence’s Braciole Fritte and the Cotolette enjoyed by the Milanese and the Austrians differ considerably. First, Florence’s braciole are thin slices of beef, not veal. Second, Florentines recook their braciole fritte in tomato sauce.

For a very simple reason, says Leonardo Romanelli, who prepared these braciole while I took pictures: Braciole fritte alla Fiorentina is a family dish, one prepared to satisfy the hunger of those at the table, and the sauce is just as important as the meat, as it gives the diners something to dip their bread into.

In the past, when people couldn’t afford as much meat as they can now, the sauce would have been even more important, because the diners would have enjoyed the bite or two of meat that was their lot, and sated their hunger by mopping up the sauce with their bread.

The traditional accompaniments for braciole rifritte are potatoes, stewed in tomato sauce, or boiled beans.

To serve 4:

  •     3/4 cup olive oil (see below
  •     2 peeled garlic cloves, one sliced and the other crushed (see below)
  •     2 1-pound (450 g) cans canned tomatoes
  •     4 thin beef slices, trimmed of gristle and fat
  •     Flour
  •     2 eggs, lightly beaten
  •     Breadcrumbs
  •     A small bunch of parsley, minced
  •     Optional: A small onion, finely sliced, or: 1/2 teaspoon crumbled hot pepper flakes.

To begin, a note about the oil:

Leonardo fried his braciole in olive oil. If you would rather, you could use peanut, corn or sunflower seed oil, though olive oil does impart a certain flavor. If you choose not to fry the braciole in olive oil, you will need 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2/3 cup of the oil of choice.

And now to the recipe:

Begin with the sauce: Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepot and add the garlic. While Florentines do like garlic, they do not like too much garlic, and therefore slice one clove, while leaving the other whole so it can be fished out and discarded anon. If you are more of a garlic fan, you can slice both cloves, though Leonardo might object.

Braciole fritte are made throughout Tuscany, and there are variations on the theme. Florentine braciole are relatively bland, receiving a dusting of black pepper at the end. You can, if you want, add a small onion, chopped, when you begin to sauté the garlic. Or, you can add a half a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (with the garlic), to make braciole alla livornese (in Livorno they have a thing for hot pepper).

In any case, sauté the garlic, adding a healthy pinch of salt, and when the garlic begins to color add the canned tomatoes. Crush them with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, put some flour in a plate or bowl and flour the braciole, flipping them repeatedly and pressing down to make certain that the flour sticks.

The next step is to dredge the floured cutlets in egg: Beat the eggs, salting them with a pinch of salt, and dredge the slices of meat in the egg, turning to coat all sides.

La Braciola Fritta alla Fiorentina: Fried Cutlet

La Braciola Fritta alla Fiorentina: Fried Cutlet

Truth be told, older traditions dictate that one simply soak the cutlets in egg for several hours without flouring them. On the one hand, people thought the meat would absorb substance from the egg, and on the other it allowed the housewife or cook to start preparing the meal, and get onto other things.

The next step, regardless of whether you have floured the meat or soaked it in egg, is to bread the braciole. This is easiest to do if you put some breadcrumbs in a bowl, lay a braciola over them, and sprinkle more over it. Then press down firmly to make the breadcrumbs stick, flip the braciola, and press again.

When you have finished breading the first braciola, continue with the next, until you have breaded them all.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. As I noted above, Leonardo prefers olive oil. If you would rather, you could use peanut, corn or sunflower seed oil, though olive oil does impart a certain flavor.

In any case, fry the braciole. Leonardo cooked them one at a time, for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they turned golden, and then drained them on absorbent paper. Don’t overcook them, because they will be cooking further in the tomato sauce.

While the braciole are frying, blend the sauce (removing the whole clove of garlic if you so desire). Leonardo prefers to use a food mill, but you could use an immersion blender if you want.

The final step is to simmer the braciole in tomato sauce. You will want a pan large enough for the braciole (which will have shrunk some) to lie flat in. Pour most of the tomato sauce into it, lay the braciole over it, and cover with the remaining sauce. Simmer over a fairly brisk flame for 7-8 minutes, turning the braciole once or twice, and dusting them with freshly ground black pepper — adding it now means the braciole will have a nice peppery aroma. Garnish the braciole with the minced parsley, serve, with crusty bread and a zesty Chianti D’Annata, the vintage wine.


This recipe, step by step



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Categories: Beef & Veal Steaks, Braciole, and More, Tuscan Meat Recipes

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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