Warning: This recipe may contain sexual innuendo.

A braciola is, effectively, a tube of meat filled with lots of good stuff. I learned how to make this beef entree while cooking for Trattoria Ecco Italia in Boston in the early 1990s. You can make them in varying sizes and with several types of meat (such as chicken or veal), but I go with what I know and make bigger, beefier ones.

To make what I whipped up last night, you will need:

Spread the flank steak out on your preparation surface and get the biggest, sharpest knife you have. This first part is supremely tricky, but is also quite fun: youwill slice through the middle of the steak parallel to the surface, effectively making two layers of meat. Be very, very careful--and don't cut all the way through! Your ultimate goal is to open up the steak like a book, so cut toward the side of the steak that would make a good spine.

Once this is done, unfold your steak. You should now have a more or less flat piece of beef that is half as thick and twice as big (in area) as before. If you have one, get out your tenderizing mallet and start pounding away--this will help spread the steak out further. When you've unleashed all your aggression for the day, it's time to fill.

Season the inside (to taste) with your garlic (preferably in powdered form, but otherwise really finely minced), pepper, and salt. Spread everything out evenly. Lay your slices of prosciutto over this seasoned surface, and put the cheese on top of that (you can use pretty much any soft cheese). Roll the whole thing up and tie it securely, taking care to bind the ends firmly (so it doesn't leak).

Melt the butter in a large pan and add the wine. Fry up that meat roll until it's brown (maybe only 8-10 minutes on a medium heat). The meat may take on a slightly purplish hue, but this is fine. Put the whole roll into a covered, greased casserole (or an open pan covered with foil) and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Take it out and slice it like a loaf of bread. I like to serve the slices over a bed of white rice with bell peppers. Serves 4. Drink a nice Cabernet Sauvignon with it--it's a very beefy meal. It's a little on the salty side, but I go for that so no big deal. You can also fill with a weaker melting cheese (such as mozzarella) and something like bacon, skipping the salt. Hell, do whatever you want. But it is a fun meal to make!

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