Palm Sunday, is the beginning of Holy Week, or Easter Week, for Christians all over the world. Christian churches distribute palms to commemorate Jesus’ journey and triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, before he was arrested and Crucified on Good Friday. This last Sunday of Lent is also called Passion Sunday. Holy Week accounts the last few days of Christ’s life, which leads to his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The most moving Palm Sunday observance, however, takes place in Rome, Italy. The Pope, is carried in St. Peter’s Chair on the shoulders of eight men, and blesses the palms to all who are assembled in St. Peter’s Basilica. A procession of worshipers with their palms in hand, march from St. Peter’s Square through the Basilica, which symbolizes the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. You will also see many worshipers holding branches of olive trees, as they are symbols of peace. As the procession ends in the Basilica, Holy Mass is then said. All though I have never traveled to Italy, I have heard it said that this solemn and colorful procession of the blessing of the faithful with their palms is truly a sight to see.
I remember when I was living at home, on Palm Sunday we would go to church and hold our palms through the whole mass. Then go back home and I would help to prepare our special dinner for many family and friends. It was like a feast, so many dishes had to be prepared, from soup to nuts. But in my Italian family, it was pasta to sweet creamy desserts, like cannoli. I have many happy memories which I can recall of creating palm crosses and beautiful braided wreaths that my mom and grandmother showed me how to make. During Holy week and in between going to services at the church, we would do all of our Easter baking, and coloring of the hard boiled eggs which we used in making our Easter cakes. So many memories that will last a lifetime.
|My brother Chris, Coloring Eggs 1960's|
My recipe this week is my mom’s “Braciole“. My mom would add this delicious rolled up beef or pork (she preferred beef) to her meat sauce or “gravy” for our family dinners. My whole family loved this little rolled tasty stuffed meat. The flavor of all the spices and the sweetness of the raisins give it a taste of heaven. Remember, Italian‘s do not need a holiday to have a feast, or have family over. Braciole is an Italian Sicilian dish that has many variations to its ingredients.
So, “Happy Palm Sunday” or in Italian
“felice Domenica delle Palme”.
1 - (1 1/2 lbs) of top round beef (thin slices of meat for rolling)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons of minced fresh garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
3/4 cup of Pecorino Romano grated cheese
1/2 cup of dark raisins
Vegetable oil for browning
Butchers twine to tie and secure the rolls
Your favorite tomato sauce recipe
Optional: you can add Pignoli nuts, ham, prosciutto, spinach, bread crumbs, hard boiled egg, etc.
Lay the top round on your work surface. Cut into 4-6 pieces and pound to make the pieces thinner, if they are thick. Sprinkle on top of each piece of meat evenly, grated cheese, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and raisins. Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak, like a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using the butchers twine, tie the meat rolls to secure, and then do the same on the long side. The tighter they are the better as you do not want the ingredients to come out while cooking.
Heat some oil in a heavy large flat pot, (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the Braciole and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. After browned, add to your tomato sauce recipe and cook for about another hour or longer on a low simmer. After cooked, take out of pot and cut off the twine. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce and pasta.
Till Next Time…………………..
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