This must be one my favorite recipe of the ones I developed on 2013. It is a take on rich and satisfying Sicilian flavors but with techniques that recall the central European cuisine.
I originally created this recipe for a dinner party of 20 with included cooking class. The menu had to express the Sicilian palette of flavors at its fullest but, naturally, use ingredients I could find locally.
In Italy though, involtini are usually prepared with tender cuts of meat that require little cooking but here in Germany, the only sliced beef I find is pretty tough since it is supposed to be used for Rouladen (braised involtini). Making of necessity a virtue, I decided to braise the involtini in sweet yellow onion.
The involtini were filled with a mixture of young Pecorino cheese called "primo sale" (first salting) in Italian, fresh mint leaves and lemon zest; a play on the fresh and earthy notes of Sicilian landscape.
The end result was simply amazing to me.
The flavor of the Pecorino cheese perfectly melded with the light caramelized onions and dry white wine used as braising liquid. The involtini were tender but with still some bite to them and the fresh notes of the lemon zest and mint really helped cutting through the richness of each bite.
A dish that I could really eat almost every day!
Sicilian Beef involtini with Mint and Pecorino cheese
Ingredients (make 5 big involtini/rolls):
- 60g breadcrumbs
- 1 medium clove of garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh mint, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 20g grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 beef cutlets (roughly 500g)
- Soft pecorino cheese (or any other variety of melting cheese to taste) cut into sticks
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 400g onions, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 glass white wine
- Salt and pepper
Combine all the ingredients for the farce in a bowl and mix them together using a fork.
Lay the beef cutlets on a cutting board and divide the farce mixture among them, spreading it almost all the way along the slices but leaving 1/2cm free area along their sides. Add a few pieces of the soft cheese toward the top of the slices and roll them into little logs trying to keep all the farce in. Fold the sides of beef roll so to secure the stuffing inside and close each involtino using toothpicks.
In a wide pan set over medium fire, pour a little olive oil and the sliced onions. Let the onions soft for roughly 5-8 minutes then add the beef involtini and roll them around until they will have taken a little color on their sides. At this point, add the bay leaves, the white wine and enough water to cover almost completely the involtini. Put a lid over the pan and lower the fire to medium-low.
Let the involtini cook for roughly 45 minutes or until they will be tender checking every now and then that there is still some water in the pan.
If toward the end of the cooking time there will be still too much liquid in the pan, take away the lid and cook uncovered until the sauce will achieve a consistency to your liking.
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.