I still remember Mommy tying up the Braciole with cord as I watched fascinated by the act. Little did I realize how monumental these actions were in our world, the World of Italian-America, the food and the culture. Braciole is epic in our world, and Meatballs even more so, as well as Sausages, Pasta, Gravy, Espresso, and Cannoli, they are all quite dear to us. And little did I know then as a young boy of just five, I would write of these thing one day. I’d write of Spaghetti, Meatballs, Marinara, Mussels, Artichokes, Sausages, Sunday Sauce Gravy, and mommy making the Braciole and Meatbballs. She’d have the butcher cut her slices of beef top-round that she’d season with salt, pepper, Parsley, Pignoli, and Pecorino. Then she’d roll them up jelly-roll style and before tying them with a string she’d brown them in olive oil that would start the sauce she’d braise them in. I watched intently, and someday I’d make Braciole of my own. Mommy would make the Braciole and cook in the tomato sauce. More often than not she’d make a whole pot of Gravy (aka Sunday Sauce) with these Braciole, Sausages, and Meatballs. This Sunday Sauce Gravy was usually made on Sunday or possibly the night before and we’d have just Spaghetti & Meatballs from this pot of Gravy on Saturday night, saving the rest to eat the next day on Sunday with everything else; Maccheroni with Gravy, the Sausage, Meatballs, and Braciole. And what a wonderful day it would be eating Braciole, Gravy and all the rest.
Yes, I still remember Mommy making the Braciole she learned from her mom, my maternal grandmother Giuseppina Salemi Bellino who was born in Lercara Freddi, Sicily. Nonna Giuseppina learned to make Braciole and regional Sicilian dishes from her mom, my great-grandmother who was a Salemi, and that’s all I know of her. Yes, the Braciole recipe goes back to her and to Nonna Giuseppina, and then to my mother Lucia and then on to me and my sister Barbara, and brother Michael. That’s our story on Braciole. Basta!
Excerpted from Daniel Bellino-Zwicke ‘s soon to be released MANGIA ITALIANO ..
by DANIEL BELLINO ZWICKE