Fennel and Kale-Stuffed Pork Braciole

Oxmoor House
Fennel and Kale-Stuffed Pork BracioleRecipe
Photo: Oxmoor House

 

It's known in italy as involtini, but in Italian-American pork stores (and homes), particularly in cities that have a Little Italy, it's probably called braciole [BRAH-ZHOWL]. Thin slices, often pork leg or beef top round, are stuffed with whatever makes sense. We use soft cooked fennel and onions with plenty of the power-nourisher, kale. This recipe uses a panade, as it deftly binds up the moist stuffing ingredients. It's lemony, it's soulful, it's whatever you want to stuff it with--it's braciole.
Serves 8 (serving size: about 3 ounces cooked meat and 1/3 cup sauce)

Ingredients

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups julienne cut fennel, divided
2 cups julienne cut onions, divided
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
4 cups chopped kale
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread, diced
1 large egg white
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano, divided
4 (8-ounce) pork cutlets
Twine for tying
3/4 cup Wondra flour
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup white wine
2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Hands-on: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes
Total: 2 Hours, 10 Minutes

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and swirl to coat.

MAKE THE FILLING

Add 1 cup each of the fennel and the onions. Spread them out evenly. Good.

Stir frequently and cook for precisely 13 minutes or until they are both golden brown and translucent.

Add 3 of the minced garlic cloves and the lemon zest. Cook 1 minute, stirring to incorporate.

One cup at a time, add the kale and cook 10 minutes, stirring and folding until the greens collapse and become incorporated with the onion-fennel mixture.

Monitoring closely, raise the heat to high, and stir frequently, so that the mixture is moist, but not watery. Encourage evaporation by stirring and resting--in waves.

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Refrigerate for now, uncovered. It'll only be in the fridge for a few minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the bread, the egg white, the milk, and 1 tablespoon pecorino. Using your hands, squeeze, mash, and stir to combine into a uniform mixture. This is a panade.

The kale mixture will likely still be warm. That's okay. Make sure it's not super-hot.

Fold the panade into the kale mixture, creating a well-bound stuffing. You should be able to compress it into a uniform mass with your hand without it falling apart. Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled.

PREP THE PORK FOR THE FILLING

On a butcher block or resilient kitchen surface, lay down four broad sheets of plastic wrap--one for each pork cutlet. You'll be pounding the pork cutlets on this foundation.

Lay down the pork cutlets on top of the plastic wrap.

Now, top each pork cutlet with another broad piece of plastic wrap.

Using a mallet, small heavy skillet, or old-school rolling pin, pound steadily but gently--tearing is a bad thing--until the pork is a thin, flat sheet, not quite translucent, about 1/4 inch thick.

Remove the top sheets of plastic wrap and discard them. Sprinkle the cutlets evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

STUFF AND ROLL BRACIOLE

Take the kale mixture from the refrigerator, and distribute the stuffing evenly among the 4 pounded cutlets: use about 1/2 cup per cutlet and spread it over the pork, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around the outside edges.

Roll and tie the cutlets.

DREDGE AND BROWN THE PORK

Spread the Wondra flour on a pie pan or plate. Dredge the cutlets evenly.

Bring a Dutch oven to medium heat. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and heat for about 2 minutes, or until the oil "breaks" into a haze, but not a smoke.

Brown the rolled and stuffed cutlets on all sides, about 5 minutes total for all "four sides," assuming you'll get some slight flattening as you cook the cutlets.

Remove the rolled and stuffed cutlets to a plate for a moment. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

BUILD A TASTY COOKING SAUCE

Add the remaining 1 cup of fennel and 1 cup onions to the Dutch oven. Stir frequently and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the 3 minced garlic cloves, the lemon juice, the white wine, the vegetable stock, the crushed red pepper flakes, and the rosemary sprig.

Now, return the rolled and stuffed cutlets to the Dutch oven.

Raise the heat until the liquid bubbles intermittently, but not any more frequently. Boiling is not beneficial here.

Braise the braciole for about 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Let the braciole stand in the Dutch oven for 30 minutes. Braciole, if handled improperly, can end up dry. This step lets everything seek equilibrium, allowing the meat to reabsorb any moisture it may have lost in the cooking process. It's a gentle bath.

Carefully transfer the braciole to a small heatproof pan or casserole dish. Snip and discard the twine. Keep the braciole warm.

Ladle a few ounces of liquid over each braciole while you finish the sauce.

COMPLETE AND SERVE THE DISH

Raise the heat on the sauce that remains in the Dutch oven to high. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes more.

Turn off the heat.

Carefully blend the sauce using an immersion blender, or by carefully blending in small batches using a standard tabletop blender. Blend until smooth.

Ladle the sauce on a platter in an even layer.

To present, slice each braciole into 8 slices, each slice about 3/4 inch thick. Fan over the sauce.

Garnish with the fresh parsley, the remaining salt, and 1 tablespoon pecorino.

Created date

September 2014

Nutritional Information

Calories 307
Fat 10.3 g
Satfat 2.1 g
Monofat 4.1 g
Polyfat 1 g
Protein 30 g
Carbohydrate 24 g
Fiber 3 g
Cholesterol 74 mg
Iron 3 mg
Sodium 590 mg
Calcium 118 mg