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Braciola (plural braciole, /braˈtʃɔle/) is the name of an Italian dish. Braciole are simply thin slices of beef pan-fried in their own juice, tomato sauce (gravy), or in a small amount of light olive oil. It is served with a green salad or boiled potatoes.
In Italian American and Italian Australian cuisine, braciole (the word is commonly pronounced /bra'zhul/ from the Sicilian language) is the name given to thin slices of meat (typically pork, chicken, or beef, and even swordfish) that are rolled as a roulade with cheese and bread crumbs and fried (the bread crumbs are often left off). In Sicilian, this dish is also called bruciuluni , which the former is an older name used among Sicilian-Americans in Kansas City and New Orleans and the latter term is Italianized as falsomagro; moreover, two other terms exist that may, or may not, be identical to one another, involtini and rollatini, which rollatini can be spelled several ways and it is not truly an Italian word.
Braciole can be cooked along with meatballs and Italian sausage in a Neapolitan ragù or tomato sauce, which some call sarsa or succu (Sicilian), or 'Sunday gravy' (northeastern United States). They can also be prepared without tomato sauce. There exist many variations on the recipe. Changing the type of cheese and adding assorted vegetables (such as eggplant) can drastically change the taste. Braciole are not exclusively eaten as a main dish, but also as a side dish at dinner, or in a sandwich at lunch.
What are known as braciole in the United States are named involtini in Italian cuisine outside of braciole's traditional areas of origin in Southern Italy because braciole just means "slices of meat" in the rest of the country, but involtini is a more generic term. Involtini can be thin slices of beef (or pork, or chicken) rolled with a filling of grated cheese (usually Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano), sometimes egg to give consistency and some combination of additional ingredients such as bread crumbs, other cheeses, minced prosciutto, ham or Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, garlic, spinach, pignoli (pine nuts), etc. Involtini (diminutive form of involti) means "little bundles". Each involtino is held together by a wooden toothpick, and the dish is usually served (in various sauces: red, white, etc.) as a second course. When cooked in tomato sauce, the sauce itself is used to toss the pasta for the first course, giving a consistent taste to the whole meal.
After being stuffed and rolled, braciole are often tied with string or pinned with wooden toothpicks to hold in the stuffing. After pan-frying to brown, the rolls of meat are thrown into the sauce to finish cooking, still secured with string or toothpicks. In informal settings, the string is left on when the meat is served, and everybody removes their own string as they eat (toothpicks are best removed before serving).
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