Whether as a starter or a main, you can’t go far wrong with this Italian-style beef dish…
I watch a lot of those recipe demonstration videos that pop up on Facebook. A lot of them these days have become very samey. Especially the French-inspired ones; always with their pastry and their ham and cheese. The dishes are gorgeous but they just seem variation upon variation with the same ingredients.
One that did surprise me earlier in the year was that for Beef Braciole (see pictured), which is basically beef-based savoury Swiss roll. You bake it over the stove in a really rich tomato sauce and serve over a wealth of pasta. Sounds gorgeous, which is why I insisted it make an appearance at this year’s exhibition dinner party.
Originally, as a main course. It then quickly became manipulated into a gratifying and well-received starter, eschewing most of the Italian serving suggestions in favour of a healthier and less demanding wilted spinach and basil accompaniment (as pictured).
The recipe for the starter version is what I will present to you now.
- 450-500g Beef Skirt or Flank Steak
- White breadcrumbs – 3-4 standard-size slices, crusts cut off
- 50g fresh Basil
- 1 block Parmesan cheese
- 25g Parsley – fresh is preferable but dried will suffice
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 500g Spinach
- 25g Butter
- Olive Oil
Preparation Time: 30 minutes; Cooking Time; 1 hour
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or Gas Mark 4.
- Start by making the Italian herby stuffing. Blitz the bread in a food processor until you get crumbs. Grate the Parmesan and add to the food processor with the garlic, parsley and half the basil. Blitz again until all has a breadcrumb consistency.
- Lay out your beef between two pieces of greaseproof paper or baking parchment. With a meat mallet (a rolling pin is fine as an alternative), flatten the beef down until it is at least half its original thickness (the thinner you can get it, the better).
- Spread the stuffing all along the top of the flattened beef. Carefully, roll the beef up into a spiral. Carefully, using butcher’s string, tie the spiral up tightly, so that it will keep its shape in the oven. Try to make sure the stuffing doesn’t come out either side.
- Lay a layer of the breadcrumb mixture at the bottom of a lightly-oiled roasting tray. This will caramelise in the cooking process and make for a nice accompaniment. Place the rolled-up beef on top and bake for 1 hour. Turn over after 30 minutes so each side gets baked equally.
- Allow the beef to cool for 10 minutes before serving, which will make carving easier. In the meantime, place the remaining basil and the spinach (in batches) in a saucepan with some melted butter and allow to wilt. The colour and texture will both change so you will know when it is ready.
- Plate up your wilted leaves. Cut the string binding your beef only where you mean to slice, and carve a piece to place on top of your spinach. Add a scoop of the caramelised crumb mixture and serve.