Friday, March 30, 2012

Palm Sunday & Italian "Braciole" For Dinner

Greetings readers! Now that Spring is upon us and my eyes are not deceiving me, it really is the beginning of April. That means that this year Palm Sunday falls on April 1st, or better known as April Fool’s Day. The last time April Fool’s Day shared a day with Palm Sunday was in the year 2007. The next time Easter and April Fool’s Day will coincide will be in the year 2018.

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”.
Serves: 4-6

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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  1. Hi dottie, it is great to stop in and catch up. I have not seen you over on Foodbuzz these days. Palm Sunday is coming up fast! I enjoyed reading about your childhood memories here. The braciole recipe does look delicious. I have only made the dish once and this is a nice reminder that I need to make it again. Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks Tina, for your kind words and reading my blog. It is great to catch up. I had a horrible time getting into the Foodbuzz site for a while. Seems my computer would not allow me to log in. Crazy, but I am back. Yes, the braciole is a delicious dish, and I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday.