Spinach Stuffed Braciole in a Sunday Sauce with Pappardelle
- 1 (10-ounce) box chopped frozen organic spinach
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried currants or chopped raisins
- 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 4 (8-ounce) pieces thin-cut top round veal or beef pounded very thin
- Special equipment: Kitchen twine
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 large fresh bay leaf
- A few sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
- A few sprigs fresh sage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock-in-a-box
- 1 (28-ounce) large can San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 pounds hot or sweet Italian sausage or combination of both
- 1 (8-ounce) package pappardelle pasta or 12 ounces egg tagliatelle
- 1 tablespoon butter
- A generous handful fresh sweet basil leaves, torn or shredded
- A small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Open Faced Sausage, 3 Pepper and Onion Sandwiches with Provolone:
- 1 large loaf ciabatta bread
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 portabella mushroom caps
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and sliced
- 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound Italian hot or sweet or combination of both sausages in red sauce from make-ahead meal earlier in week (browned sausages simmered in tomato sauce with stock)
- 12 ounces sharp provolone cheese, shredded
- A small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
For the braciole: Defrost, drain, and wring the frozen organic spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel and separate with your fingertips while adding to a mixing bowl. Season the spinach with salt, black pepper, and a little nutmeg. Add the chopped hard-boiled eggs, currants, pine nuts, finely chopped garlic, and cheese to the bowl and gently combine. Season the meat with salt and pepper and arrange each steak with one of the narrow ends near you. Divide the filling evenly among the meat slices. Scatter the filling over the meat leaving a 1/2-inch edge or border on the sides. Fold the edge over the filling and tuck in the edges as you roll each bundle to secure the filling. Wrap and roll the remaining bundles and secure with kitchen twine to cover the ends and middle, like wrapping a package.
For the sauce: Remove the bundles from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more olive oil, give a turn of the pan to coat. Add the chopped carrots, onions, sliced garlic, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook 5 minutes to soften, then stir in the chopped rosemary and sage for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir to develop the fragrance, then add the white wine and scrape up the pan drippings. Stir in the chicken stock and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon or potato masher. Bring the sauce to a bubble, add the meat back to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook 2 hours more, stirring occasionally.
After 2 hours, brown the sausages in a frying pan with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan. Add the browned links to the sauce and gently submerge them, nestling them in with the meat bundles. Simmer the mixture 30 minutes more to cook the sausages through and combine their flavor into the sauce.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente. Reserve a cup of starchy cooking liquid just before draining.
Remove the meat bundles to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Remove the sausages to a separate plate to cool.
Cut the string from the meat and serve the meat dotted with more sauce and sprinkled with fresh parsley on large dinner plates with hot pappardelle pasta topped with fresh basil and some shaved Parm alongside.
Cook's Note: Reserve the sausages and any remaining spoonfuls of sauce for a make-ahead meal later in the week. Open Faced Sausage, 3 Pepper and Onion Sandwiches with Provolone, recipe follows.To make sandwiches:
If you are cooking a make-ahead meal with bread that will not be used for a couple of days, place it in the freezer in an airtight bag or wrap well. Unwrap to defrost at room temperature and then crust in a warm oven.
Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, cubanelle peppers, chile pepper, and garlic to tender-crisp, 5 minutes more.
Cool and store the mushroom mixture. To reheat the mushroom mixture: Add a splash of stock or water over medium heat and season with salt and pepper.
To reheat the sausages: Add a splash of stock or water to the sausages to loosen the sauce. Add a ladle of sauce to the mushroom pan.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Split the bread horizontally then halve into 4 large pieces. Arrange the bread pieces on cooling racks set over baking sheets to allow the heat to circulate all around the bread. Halve the sausages lengthwise. Dot the bread with sauce, top with the sausages cut-side-down, dot with more sauce and top with peppers and cheese. Bake the bread 12 to 15 minutes, or until melted and brown at the edges. Garnish with parsley and serve.
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