Monday, August 22, 2011

Pig skin braciole

Hey, wait a minute. Where do you think you're going? Come back here!

Okay, so it's a rolled up, tied down, funky-ass-looking piece of pig skin.

For eating, yes. In red sauce.

No, I'm not kidding.

Of course it tastes good. What do you think I'm running here?

I was at Frank & Sal over in Bensonhurst, and, well, there it was right in front of me. What was I supposed to do? NOT throw it inside the cooler with all the other stuff that I was transporting back to Maine?

You really do not know me at all, do you?

It had been a long time since I'd made these braciole (the singular is braciola, if you wondered) and so I was pretty hot to get going on them. These are the two pieces of skin that were in the package. They have been rinsed under cool water and patted dry with paper towels.

Recipes vary wildly for these braciole (technically the term for rolled thin slices of beef, but adopted to mean rolled just about anything in Italian-American culture). In addition to a variety of herbs and seasonings, my mother always included whole hard-boiled eggs in the filling. I saw someone recently use pine nuts and raisins even! Right here you have your freshly grated cheese (a mix of Romano and Reggiano), chopped garlic, fresh parsley, salt, ground black pepper and breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs are entirely optional; in fact, I rarely use them. If you are making the braciole for the first time (you are planning on making them, right?), you may want to skip the breadcrumbs.

Once you have mixed all that stuff thoroughly, lay down a light coating on the inner side of the pig skin.

Roll it up nice, like so.

And then commence to tying.

Once you're finished tying, drop each braciola into a simmering pot of tomato sauce. 

What! You don't have a sauce working? Here's a recipe that works for me every time. (If you use this recipe, add the braciole at the same time you add the tomatoes.)

It takes a good couple hours for the pig skin to cook properly, but longer won't hurt it either. (Oh, and unless you enjoy the texture of cooked string, allow me to suggest taking a scissor to these babies and removing the tie-downs before serving.)

Look, I know this sounds like one weird-ass thing to put into your mouth. Believe me, I get it. I wouldn't even go near the stuff for years and years and years. And then more years after that.

But it really is a very, very tasty dish. Not only that, I'm pretty certain that the braciole enhance both the flavor (richer) and character (silkier) of the sauce they are cooked in.

Would it kill you to give it a try?



joe said...

my grandma always put these in her gravy when i was growing up.only tasted them once and didnt really like the texture,of course i was about 10 so what did i know!she stopped making them shortly after that and i never got to taste them with adult taste buds.thanks for the great memory.i hadnt thought of these in years til just i miss my grandma!

Proud Italian Cook said...

This is what my husband grew up with, my mother in law made this all the time! The first time she made it for me I was sorta shocked, never having eaten pig skin braciole, I remember hers being very tender, but I still prefer meat, my hubby would sit and eat this with you for sure!

Fred said...

My uncle Carl (zio carlino) owned a Romano's Pork Store in downtown Broo-ka-leenn. It was at 512 Henry Street in what is now trendy Carroll Gardens, but was dangerous South Brooklyn back then. You know that every form of meat that man could fashion from a pig was fodder for his wife's Sunday pasta sauce. I eschewed the pig's feet, the tongue and the snout. But the sausages and pig skin was manna. Am I mistaken or do I remember the rolled stuffed pigskin being pan seared before its hours long tomato bath?

Mister Meatball said...

Fred: I had you pegged as a skin man, yeah.

As for the pan searing, yes, that works too, and is often done.

Claudia said...

It looks like something I may have eaten before my time. Unfortunately, I don't think I can get the ingredients here. Really. And just so you know the word verification - is slightly obscene.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

My husband and I love this dish! His Mom used to make it all the time. I don't make it often as it doesn't look heart healthy but it is definitely a special treat and makes the sauce taste so good!

PS: It took three years for my fig tree to produce figs. The early ones in June fall off, but the the second set come out like gangbusters and they all ripen beautifully!

Ellie said...

Amazing, never thought of making braciole with pig skin. The flavor of the pig skin makes the sauce fantastic!! What a great idea :)

capatosta said...

well, i've had worse things in my mouth

i kind of looks like a burrito, which may pass with my kids if i call such

kind of reminds me of steakums

Anonymous said...

The pig is a wonderful, magical animal. Homer Simpson said so:

Mister Meatball said...

A wiser man than he I do not know.

Jeannie said...

Oh this is something I would eat, we chinese do eat every part of the pig believe me from the ears to intestines (small and big) to the trotters and of cos the skin:D Just that we cook it differently, that's all:) Your version certainly looks delicious, when cooked:D

Anonymous said...

My family used a mixture of 1/4" diced hot Soppressata, hard boiled eggs, flat leaf parsley, breadcrumbs and cheese either Parmaigiano or Romano. Sometimes some other type salami would be used in place of the Soppresata.

Anonymous said...

Where can a transplanted Jersey Italian girl find pig skin in Eastern Washington? No one carries it. We had it for Christmas every year. Haven't had it in over 40 years. Do they ship it?

Mister Meatball said...

Find a good butcher, one who butchers his own pigs. Nowadays the butchers stressing "local" meats will often do this. That's how I get pigskin in Maine. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

My neighbor Mrs. Albanese thought I'd be groosed out so she didn't tell me what it was till after I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just made Sopresata and had the skin from the fat back, so now they are simmering in the sauce with the pigs feet. The meatballs and sausage will go in later. Itsa gonna be a great Sunday Gravy.

Anonymous said...

My father always made this with regular beef braccaile, he stuffed his with raisins, bread crumgs, some ground beef or ground veal. Always cooked it in red gravy. we loved it. From a 72 year old Italian from Northern NJ, my dad passed away and the dish has just about disappeared from our table.

MsMadonnaMia said...

Thanks so much for this receipe and posting it. Remember Nana making this on Sunday with meatballs and beef braciole. Havent had it in years. will be tommorrow, Sunday. Heart attack will have to wait. Peace Out Pasian

paul lewis said...

AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING DISH. I am part Ukrainian and Italian. I grew up eating this from the Italian side of my family. I usually make it once a year and hand it out to the ones who enjoy eating it in my family

Luigi said...

My Nonna makes this, the texture is what puts most people off but it has so much taste. Must at least try this once, if you can get past the texture it a great alternative to meat in your pasta sauce.

Nelle said...

My grannie used to stuff it with sausage or with a ricotta/parm/spinach mixture. She left 1/2 inch of fat on the skin. Cooked it in a cauldron of sauce along with pig tails, sausage, neck bones, whatever was cheap. Cooled, sliced and fried in a pan and topped with the sauce.

Mister Meatball said...

Mmmmm, sounds terrific.

Nonnas always know best.

Cathy D said...

I haven't had pig skin braciole in about 40 years! My grandmother and mom used to make it. Lately I have had the urge for it!
So I purchased 2 packages. Your recipe is exactly how I remember it being made. I also remember my mom scraping it with
a large knife. Not really sure why. Maybe to get any leftover hairs off! Anyway Easter Sunday it will be in my gravy!! Can't wait
to have it again! I can taste it now!!!