Somehow, over the span of my 15+ years calling north Jersey my home, I never watched The Sopranos.
When it was on the air, I was too young for all that cursing, whacking, and strip club frequenting, though I was aware that they would sometimes film at a corner bakery in my town and also at the Satin Dolls strip club on Route 4 in Lodi.
Though my interest had been peaked over the past few years, I didn’t start the series until a few weeks ago. It turns out boys like The Sopranos especially and if you date one who really loves The Sopranos, you’ll feel the need to watch it just to understand all the references that keep being made over and over again.
This is starting to sound like “If you give a mouse a cookie…”
But instead, it’s more like “If you date a chef whose favorite show is The Sopranos, chances are he’ll want to start trading off Italian meals on those Sunday evenings when you watch an episode.”
Did you follow all that?
Well if you didn’t, that’s your fault, not at all my fault as a bad writer. At. all.
All of this is to lead me to say: I, Tory “Food Blogger of the Century” Nettleton, didn’t actually cook the meal I’m about to tell you about. My non-food blogger chef boyfriend cooked this meal. WHOAAAAAAAA! (Quiz break! Can you tell who butterflied which steak above? I’ll give you zero guesses, because it’s obvious.)
How did he do it, if he’s not a food blogger?! Good question. I guess it has something to do with how he spends his days.
To kick the series off (because yes, I did take the prestigious premiere cooking slot), I made this classic spaghetti dinner from Bon Appetit, despite being told to make baked ziti due to its relevance to the first episode. I was feeling like maybe I should have, because I’m a sucker for the whole authentically themed menu thing, but don’t you worry – there are definitely some spaghetti and meatballs spotted in the premiere, too.
On the second Sunday of this new little tradition, Mack made brasciole, a rolled steak cooked in red sauce (sawse, if you’re from Jersey). We filled it with fresh *mutz*, carrot, garlic, parmesan, pecorino, breadcrumbs and duck prosciutto (though slices of regular prosciutto will do), and served it sliced over pasta.
This is just the thing for a Sunday night supper. It’s special, simple, and lends itself well to sitting around the kitchen sipping wine as it’s prepared. (Read: This is what I did while Mack did all the work.) It’s fancy enough to grace your dining room table, but meltingly tender and easy to eat while snugged up on the couch.
As I wasn’t raised entirely in North Jersey and as I’m not actually Italian-American, brasciole wasn’t really something I was familiar with, much like the very TV show that brought this meal about. Still, I could feel my little northern Jersey senses tingling as we retreated to the couch, plates of brasciole in hand, and sure enough, about five minutes into the episode, the boss tells his wife to bring him a plate of , you guessed it! “Brahjol!”
Now go on, get outta here, go make yourself a plate of this and ay! Fuhgeddaboudit!
1 lb skirt steak (could also use flank steak)
28 oz crushed tomatoes
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-4 slices prosciutto (depending on how many portions of steak you end up with)
1 medium carrot
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino, plus more to serve
¼ cup bread crumbs (we used pank, but use whichever)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs of basil, 1 sprig chopped and 1 sprig left whole
A splash of red wine
1 lb short pasta
2 TB olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to season
Note: You’ll also need some kitchen twine!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together 2/3 of the minced garlic and all of the chopped basil and set aside.
- Using a vegetable peeler, create carrot ribbons and set aside.
- Portion your steak into 3-4 pieces. Butterfly each portion. Video here!
- Assembly: Season steaks lightly with a light pinch of salt anda few cranks of pepper on each side. Next, sprinkle some breadcrumbs, parmesan, and the garlic/basil mixture on one side. Cover that side with a slice of prosciutto followed by a few ribbons of carrot. Place a slice or two of mozzarella over the bottom third of the steak.
- Starting the the bottom, roll the steak into a log, like you would if making cinnamon rolls. Using kitchen twine, tie your roll together in three spaces.
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers or starts to lightly smoke, brown your steaks on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- Once the steaks are browned take them out and set them aside before adding in the rest of the minced garlic and the intact basil sprig. Sautee for about 30 seconds. Add the splash of red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits, followed by the can of tomatoes. Season with about a teaspoon of salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and add the steaks back in. Cover and move to the oven to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning them once or twice.
- Not long before the steaks are ready to come out, cook your pasta according to package directions. When the steaks are ready to come out, remove them from the sauce and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then slice, and serve steaks and your sunday sauce over pasta. Bada bing, bada boom, there you go. You’ve got a plate of BRAJOL!