Let’s play Jeopardy.
The answer: Comfort food and hearty wine!
The Question: What do you need to ward off that psychological malady brought on by gray skies, cold weather, a general lack of sunshine and the end of football season?
Clinically known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), Doctor Feelgood (that’s me) has just the over-the-counter prescription for what ails you when the cold wind whips, the skies turn dark and football is almost in the rearview mirror.
Of course you could fire up a pot of three-alarm chili, layer a pan of lasagna with four pounds of noodles, cheese and meat sauce, or even jazz up a crock of file’ gumbo with Cajun chicken, andouille sausage and a mahogany roux. But those dishes are not turning my crank today.
No, I’m in the mood for some serious Italian grub that features beef slowly cooked in a fiery (optional) red sauce which is then ladled over penne pasta. My Happy (and hearty) cure for SAD? Braciole (pronounced brah-she-oh–luh) or Italian beef roll-ups slow cooked in a delicious bath of spicy tomato sauce.
I call it “Brash Braciole cause this dish will get right in your face like a blitzing linebacker! As a matter of fact, you might consider making this the centerpiece of your Super Bowl celebration.
After preparing and consuming the dish – accompanied by a lovely full bodied red wine – your outlook on the world will definitely be brighter. So here’s the recipe along with a couple of copacetic wine suggestions that will lift your spirits and help get you through these gray days.
Two pound beef rump roast cut into one-half inch thick slices
One pound of penne pasta
Three large cans of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
Two links of Italian sausage
One half cup of grated parmesan cheese and Italian bread crumbs
Four ounces of extra virgin olive oil
One large onion, chopped
Four cloves garlic, chopped finely
One red pepper and one carrot coarsely chopped
One tsp. each of kosher salt, black pepper, dried oregano and red pepper flakes
Two sheets each of plastic wrap and several tooth picks or pieces of butcher string
One-half cup of dry red wine
Take one half of the veggie mixture and sauté in large pot or dutch oven
Put the San Marzano tomatoes and half the wine into the pot with the veggies simmer sauce for two hours
Place meat pieces between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to one-quarter inch thickness
Make a dry rub of the spices (a tsp. of the garlic) and rub into both sides of the meat
Cook the Italian sausage and chop finely
Sauté the remainder of onions, garlic and carrots in the sauté pan and set aside
Allow the meat and vegetables to cool to room temperature
NOW OPEN SOME WINE AND HAVE A SIP –YOU DESERVE A BREAK!
Combine the veggies, cheese, sausage and bread crumbs into a mixture in a bowl
Spread the mixture on each piece of beef, roll up and affix with toothpicks or string
Sauté the roll-ups in a skillet using some of the olive oil
Deglaze the skillet with a couple splashes of the red wine and place braciole in the tomato sauce in the dutch oven
Cover and cook in the oven for two hours at 325 F
Cook the penne in boiling water until al dente and combine with the tomato sauce
Ladle the spicy sauce over the braciole and penne and serve on the same plate.
2010 Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico ($24) –Infused with dark cherry flavors and hints of spice and blackberry, this predominately sangiovese-based wine is full-bodied and rich. It would be a great match to the racy red sauce and the braciole.
2013 Columbia Winery Columbia Valley Merlot ($17) – Merlot with Italian food? Actually yes. This silky, full-bodied and spicy Washington State wine also has a nice zing of acidity to balance it out and make it an excellent match to braciole.