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Passport & Plate - Bragjoli - Braised Beef Olives

Malta | Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 5 photos

Bragjoli :- (serves 1-2 persons)
1 piece or 2 small pieces of knuckle beef (thinly sliced)
2-3 slices of parma ham
few leaves of baby spinach
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 portabello mushrom thinly sliced
1 hard-boiled egg (use whole egg or just yolk)
1tsp finely chopped parsley
1tsp grated parmesan cheese
splash of red wine
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
1 onion (roughly chopped)
150-250 mls veal or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3-5 sage leaves (deep fried for garnish)

Rocket & Roasted Tomatoes Salad:-
150 grms of cherry tomatoes (halves or quartered)
2 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of sea salt (maldron salt)
a handful of rocket leaves
few garlic shoots

White Bean Puree:-
200 grms cannellini beans (soaked overnight)
20 grms butter
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
2 cloves of garlic (if roasted tomatoes are prepared beforehand, the roastes cloves of garlic use for tomatoes can be used in this puree)
1tsp lemon zest
1 tsp creme fraiche
1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
50-100 mls chicken or veg stock


How to prepare this recipe
1.Preheat oven at 110 degrees & put tomatoes, garlic, thyme, olive oil & salt in an oven dish & slow roast for about 2 hours. This can be done in advance so the tomatoes can cool down. Reserve the juices from the tomatoes & use to dress rocket salad & keep the roasted garlic cloves for the white bean puree.
2.Chop the egg, add chopped parsley & parmesan & mix.
3.Bat the pieces of beef to thin them out & tenderise them. Start layering the Parma ham, 4 spinach leaves, use a pastry brush to brush a little dijon mustard and add 4 slices of mushrooms. Lastly add some of the egg mixture and roll them to form a roll.
4.Secure the beef roll with tootpicks or string. Repeat the same process with all pieces of beef.
5.There are two methods to continue cooking the meet olives. Either by sealing the meat in a casserole dish on the stove deglaze pan with a splash of wine, add chopped carrots, onions, thyme, peppercorns andbay leaf. Add enough stock to cover the meet and cook on a low heat for about 2 hrs.
The other method (especially if you have the tomatoes in the oven) is following the same steps but instead of cooking it on the stove you put the casserole dish in a preheated oven at 140 degrees and braise for about two hours.
6.Drain and rinse the beans, put them in a pot and cover with water and cook for 1 hour. When cooked drain and put in a bowl.
7.In the meantime prepare the rosemary oil. Melt the butter in a pan, add garlic & rosemary until butter melts & add it to the drained beans, add lemon zest, creme fraiche, vinegar & salt. At this point add just a little of the stock to loosen it up. If you want a rustic look leave puree fairly chunky if you want a looser puree keep adding stock and blitz until it reaches the consistency that you want, pass it through a sieve and leave aside until its time to plate up.
8.When everything is cooked, warm up puree, cut bragjoli rolls , dress rocket salad leaves with the tomato juices & add tomatoes & garlic shoots & plate up.


The story behind this recipe
This a Traditional Maltese recipe which is probably cooked in every Maltese house. The filling of these Beef Olives can vary depending on the recipe the cook follows.
Now that I am living away from my country these Bragjolis bring back very good memories with some nostalgia at times. I remember all the family together eating them for lunch with some vegetables, potato mash or fries, as this dish has always been a family favourite in our house and we always looked forward to eating it.
My mother is a very good cook and she is an ispiration behind many of my dishes, but i like to make a dish my own so i changed my mother's recipe to suit my style.
This recipe has changed throughout three generations, my grandmother used mince, cheese, some bacon and egg to fill her beef olives, whilst my mother changed it to ham, mushrooms, and the egg mixture that I used. I, in turn tweaked the filling a little bit to make it my own. Anyway you fill these beef olives they always turn out very tasty when all the flavours fuse into each other.
Although it is a staple food in my country, i believe that it has very good potential to be a restaurant dish and that's the way i look at it. Through its simplicity and genuine flavours it trancends a fusion between tradition and innovation and you can almost taste the evolution of the dish in every bite!

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