Gennaro Contaldo’s Braciolone Palermitano Recipe (Filled rolled beef cooked in tomato sauce)


Bracciolone Palermitano


This Braciolone Palermitano (filled rolled beef in tomato sauce) recipe has been reproduced with permission from Gennaro Contaldo’s Gennaro’s Slow Cook Italian.

(Click here for our review and read our interview with Gennaro on Larger Family Life here.)

“This traditional southern Italian Sunday lunch dish is one of my favourites and very reminiscent of my childhood. Each region makes its own version and my family would make it with local cheese and salami. This is a Sicilian version, hence the Italian title, using caciocavallo cheese; if you can’t find it in your Italian deli, you can substitute provolone, pecorino (romano) or Parmesan. Beef brisket is ideal for slow cooking and the tasty filling turns this economical cut of meat into a meal fit for a king. Italians usually serve the tomato sauce with pasta for a starter and the meat as a main course with a green salad. If you have leftover tomato sauce, you can freeze it for another time.”



Serves 4–6

700g/1lb 9oz beef brisket

2 slices of mortadella

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

100g/3½oz fresh breadcrumbs

50g/1¾oz caciocavallo cheese, grated

70g/2½oz salami, finely chopped

20g/¾oz sultanas (golden raisins),

soaked in lukewarm water to soften,


20g/¾oz/generous 2 tbsp pine nuts

a handful of parsley, roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the sauce:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion

a handful of basil leaves

175ml/6fl oz/¾ cup red wine

1 tbsp tomato purée (paste), diluted

with a little lukewarm water

1kg/2lb 4oz tomato passata (strained




Put the beef flat on a board. Make a cut halfway through the centre of the meat, then carefully slice horizontally through both sides of the meat so that it opens out like a book. Flatten slightly with a meat tenderizer, line with the mortadella slices and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and sweat until softened. Stir in the breadcrumbs until all the oil has been absorbed, remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the cheese, salami, sultanas, pine nuts and parsley and combine well together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture over the mortadella. Carefully roll the meat and tie securely with kitchen string to ensure the filling does not escape. Set aside.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large flameproof pot, add the meat and brown well on all sides. Add the onion and sweat until softened. Stir in the basil leaves, add the wine and allow to evaporate, then add the diluted tomato purée, passata, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 3 hours. Halfway through cooking, very carefully turn the meat over, and from time to time baste the meat with the tomato sauce.

Carefully remove the meat from the sauce, place on a serving dish, discard the string and carve into slices, serving with a little of the sauce. Use the remaining sauce to dress freshly cooked pasta.


Gennaro’s Slow Cook Italian by Gennaro Contaldo (published by Pavilion) is available from all good book sellers including Amazon now (rrp. £20.00). 

Photo Credit: Laura Edwards

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