Thursday, 24 June 2010

Braġjoli – Maltese Beef Olives

Beef olives are found all over Europe, the Maltese have their own variation called Braġjoli which is either baked or braised in a wine or tomato sauce. I made these last week and served them with the Patata fil Forn from my last post. It went down a treat with a very good friend asking if he could have the leftovers for his lunch (I have the Maltese tendency of cooking too much!).

My preferred way of cooking them is to brown them, then braise them in a wine, garlic and tomato sauce with lots of bay leaves and marjoram. They go fantastically well with Patata fil Forn and steamed veg (I served them with thickly cut carrots and broccoli florets here), as well as creamy mashed potato. You can prepare the beef olives ahead of time as they do need quite a bit of time to cook – this is very much a slow food dish.

Braġjoli – Maltese Beef Olives

Serves 4 - 6 (About 270 cal per beef olive)


For the braġjoli:

30g breadcrumbs
100g lean bacon or thick cut ham, chopped into small pieces
200g extra lean beef mince
2 medium hard boiled eggs, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
500g lean topside beef, cut into 8 thin slices (any cut with too much fat marbling won't stand up to being flattened out as it will tend to collapse)

For the sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
150ml red wine (the stronger, the better)
1 beef stock bullion, dissolved in 100ml boiled water
400g chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon marjoram (dried is fine)
4 large bay leaves
1 tbsp chopped parsley
season to taste

Method for the Braġjoli:

1. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, bacon, mince, eggs, garlic, onion, parsley and seasoning, mixing thoroughly.

2. On a protected surface, take a slice of the topside and flatten out further by beating it out with a meat mallet (or a rolling pin) until it's about 3mm thick.

3. Take 1-2 heaped tablespoons of the stuffing and spoon onto the centre of the flattened out "steak". Roll up tightly by tucking the sides over the stuffing and rolling up. Secure with cocktail sticks.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other slices. Set aside. If preparing ahead, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate.

Method for the sauce:

1. In a large casserole dish or heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat and brown the braġjoli all over with the bay leaves, you may need to do this in a couple of batches. Set aside.

2. In the same oil, brown the onions and garlic. If it sticks, add a little of the wine to get at the crispy bits.

3. Pour in the rest of the wine, add the chopped tomatoes, stock and marjoram, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and carefully add the braġjoli, making sure they are well covered by the sauce.

4. Cover and simmer over a low heat for about an hour and a half to two hours, checking the moisture level. If need be, add a little water now and then.

5. Stir through the rest of the parsley at the end of cooking, check the seasoning and remove all the cocktail sticks before serving – this can be a little bit of a messy job, so take out the braġjoli first and do it on a separate plate before spooning over the sauce.

Any left over stuffing can be made into patties by beating an egg through it and dipping into breadcrumbs. Fry in a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan until golden brown.


Janice said...

Sounds lovely

Helen (Fuss Free Flavours) said...

That looks lovely! I think I had them on my Maltese holiday years ago.

Catherine said...

Mmmmmm this looks wonderful! I may do this for my next dinner party; thank you for the step by step instructions! :)

Mer said...

No problem! It's not as difficult as it sounds. Just takes a bit of time.

If you like you can add things like spinach or potatoes to the stuffing too, or any other herbs like sage.

Su-Lin said...

These look gorgeous! I'll save the recipe for the autumn though... mmm... can't wait for the cool weather!

Su-Lin said...

Gah, don't think I signed off that last comment correctly.

Anonymous said...

Just made this dish ... am throwing a "you are off to Malta party" for my Maltese friend and her partner. My trial run, tasted great. Thanks for recipe.