Braised Braciole for Better Mental Health

Or - "I love my husband but hate the world beef rolls"

Loving to cook brings so much balance to the end of the day, if you are feeling stable enough to do so safely that is (sometimes those sharp knives and hot cast iron skillets are best left to another day).  Having a fair amount of pent up frustration and trying to work on a successful escape route out of depression contributed to tonight's dinner, what was supposed to be a somewhat traditional Braciole.  Here is what came out of it:

1 - 1.5 lbs round chuck, flank steak, or similar thin cut cheaper beef
1 bunch spinach
2 slices deli Provolone cheese
2 slices of  bacon
1/3 cup Parmesan Romano cheese
3 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tsp garlic powder
5 slices Italian bread, left out to dry (use more if particularly stressed)
3/4 cup milk, 2%
Kosher salt, Panko bread crumbs (if desired)

1. Cut beef into 4 sections.  Lay out plastic wrap and cover both sides of one piece of beef at a time, using a hammer style tenderizer pound out your aggression & frustrations onto the beef (trust me, the beef needs that pressure more than you do).  The sections of beef should be around 1/3 of an inch thick and should expand in area. 

2. Tear crusts from bread, if not stressed you may simply cut off the crusts but where's the fun in that?  Tear centers of bread into approximately 1" square type pieces.  Toss in a large mixing bowl, cover with milk, and mix well by hand saturating the bread.  Set aside to soak.

3. Saute bacon, cut into small slices with kitchen scissors or crumbled after cooking, add onion and garlic.

4. Grab the bunch of spinach and hold tightly around the leaves close to the end.  Using an 8" chef knife, carefully cut slices out of the bunch (about 1/2" thick), then remove the remaining bunch and take some deep cleansing breathes as you determinedly chop up the sliced spinach a bit smaller as you release tension in your shoulders and not cut off the tips of your fingers.

5. Off the heat, add about 4 large handfuls of spinach to the bacon mixture and stir to coat.  Use the kitchen scissors to cut the provolone into smaller sections then toss in with the rest.  Dump the entire pan into the mixing bowl with the bread  and Parmesan Romano cheese and toss all the ingredients around to mix, if you are still feeling stressed you may need a fairly large bowl to really get into it.  Don't press too hard into the bread to keep the liquid inside.

6. Lay out the sections of beef, season with kosher salt.  Use a small amount of bread crumbs, panko if desired, to create a bed in the middle of each section.  Divide the filling into 4 sections and add to each piece of beef in the middle, roll the beef around the filling and secure with toothpicks.

7. Heat olive oil in a deep pan and brown the top and bottom of each roll.  Remove to a baking dish sprayed with non-stick oil.  (see sauce recipe below or use a jar of your favorite sauce for next step)

8. Dump tomato based sauce on top and smother all the beef, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and braise at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Toss a couple yellow potatoes, after pierced a couple times with a fork, on the rack next to the dish.  Go pour a glass of wine and relax.

1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes with garlic & olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan Romano cheese
1 tsp sugar
Parsley(curly & flat), Oregano, Basil, Garlic

Dump both cans, sugar, and cheese into the pan used to brown the beef after draining excess oil.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Add spices to taste and simmer until the smell fills the room.  Return to step 8 above.

Now - sit back, relax, and enjoy delicious comfort food along with your family, your favorite book, or television program.

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