I'm managing to get a few things done here. Lazy days are great, but I usually end up sorry that I didn't do more. The laundry is going, and the rack of ribs is in the oven (more in a moment). Ken worked out, and we've both gotten cleaned up, and we have all afternoon to "putter." I'm wearing my hoody sweatshirt, and I feel good.
Disclaimer: Please note that my wearing a hoody is in no way an endorsement of Bill Belichick and/or the team he coaches. It's just warm, and it has pockets.
Okay, let's talk about baby back ribs. (Feel free to sing "I want my baby back baby back baby back" as Fat Bastard right now.) Ken's mom made these for us a few years ago, and we raved about them so much, she made them again when we visited in December. They literally fall off the bone. There's nothing to it--she just salts and peppers them, puts them in the oven on a low temperature (200-225°), and cooks them all day. I'll keep an eye on them, and cover them with foil if I need to, but I really need to do nothing else to them. Today is a great day to make them, too, because I get to have the oven on all day, and maybe make it a little warmer in here!
Hey, I found Emeril's Braciole recipe, although he calls it Sicilian-Style Beef Roulade. I had read several similar recipes, and it sounds like this one is authentic Sicilian, with the hard-boiled eggs in the middle.
Sicilian-Style Beef Roulade
3/4 cup dried bread crumbs
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds thin, flat beef cut for braciole (such as top round)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 thin slices mortadella
3/4 cup grated caciocavallo or Pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 hard-boiled eggs
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) whole Italian tomatoes, crushed, with juices
2 bay leaves
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, combine the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook, stirring frequently, until bread crumbs are golden and toasted. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
Place the beef on a clean, flat work surface and pound to tenderize and achieve a thickness of 1/4-inch or less. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover 1 side of the beef with the mortadella slices, leaving a 1-inch border along all edges. Add the grated cheese, garlic, parsley, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and pine nuts to the cooled bread crumbs and stir to combine. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the slices of mortadella. Cut the eggs in quarters lengthwise, and lay them down the middle of the meat, end to end, and cut sides down. Roll the beef up, carefully enclosing the filling around the eggs, all the way to the other end. Tie the roll with kitchen twine in several places so that the filling is secured and the roulade is tightly bound.
Heat the remaining oil in a large Dutch oven or other pan large enough to hold the roulade and brown the meat on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and turn the meat to coat on all sides. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and their juices, and enough water or stock to come 2/3 of the way up the meat. Bring to a boil, add the bay leaves, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, turning occasionally and basting with the pan juices, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove the meat from the pot, cover loosely, and allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. If necessary, continue cooking the pan juices until reduced to sauce consistency. When the meat has rested at least 20 minutes, remove the twine, slice into 1/2-inch slices, and serve with the reduced pan juices.
Wow, does that sound good, or what? I don't know if my Dutch oven is big enough to cook this monster, but I think that if I fold in the ends of the beef, I can make it the right size to fit in there. Has anyone ever heard of caciocavallo cheese? I assume it's something like aged Parmesan, but I've never heard of it. Okay, here we go:caciocavallo
[kah-choh-kuh-VAH-loh] From southern Italy, caciocavallo (meaning "cheese on horseback") is said to date back to the 14th century, and believed by some to have originally been made from mare's milk. Today this cheese comes from cow's milk and has a mild, slightly salty flavor and firm, smooth texture when young (about 2 months). As it ages, the flavor becomes more pungent and the texture more granular, making it ideal for grating. Caciocavallo is one of the pasta filata types of cheeses (like provolone and mozzarella), which means it has been stretched and shaped by hand. It may be purchased plain or smoked and comes in string-tied gourd or spindle shapes.
<snort> Cheese on horseback!
Hmm, sounds like I might have a hard time finding that around here. I have seen Pecorino Romano, though, and I think you can subsitute Provolone for Mortadella, if I can't find Mortadella. I seem to recall that when making Muffalettas a few years ago, the recipe called for Mortadella, but Provolone would work also.
This recipe is obviously high maintenance, so it's one I'll try on a weekend or a day off. I think I will end up trying it, though. It sounds fun and yummy, and fairly impressive.
More later...until then, The Cheese Rides Again!