The leftover sauce from the beef can be tossed with pasta as a first course, and, for the second course, serve the beef with a vegetable. From the book "Lucinda's Rustic Italian Kitchen," by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Wiley).
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 10 slices top-round sirloin, very thinly sliced, pounded to 4-6 inches
- 10 pieces string, 14 inches long
- 1 small onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons red wine (optional) or water
- 1 28-ounce can best-quality tomatoes, coarsely blended
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of the garlic in a small skillet over medium heat until it sizzles but does not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in the breadcrumbs, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Stir in the Parmesan, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, 1/8 teaspoon of the black pepper, the red pepper flakes, and thyme.
Lay the meat slices out side by side on a clean workspace. Sprinkle each slice with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Place a scant 1/4 cup filling over each meat slice, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Drizzle on olive oil and roll each piece up from the widest to narrowest end. Tie each piece with the string.
Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Just before the oil smokes, add the meat bundles. (Do not crowd the pan or the meat won't brown.) Working in batches if necessary, cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove the braciola from the pan and keep warm in the oven.
Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the onion and the remaining teaspoon of garlic, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the wine or water, stirring to deglaze the pan, loosening all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Return the beef to the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Remove the bundles from the pan, one at a time, snip off the string, and return to the pan. The dish may be made a couple of days ahead to this point, and the taste will improve. Serve as desired.