A Sicilian Favorite in Rome
Earlier this year, I rented an apartment in Rome to learn to cook like a Roman. I took advantage of the seasonal produce of artichokes, strawberries, and puntarelle in Campo dei Fiori, the open market in central Rome. Before I arrived, a friend said I must try the Beef Roll-ups in a Sicilian restaurant near the Maxxi Museum. Twist my arm. I arrived one afternoon without a reservation. Of course, that is not a problem. I was in Italy! The waiter, the charming restaurant, and simple food were memorable. How could I re-create these great Sicilian beef roll-ups at home? After three attempts, I think I’ve found a good substitute when I’m not in Rome.
When I arrived at the restaurant, there was a beautiful antipasti area. I wanted a bite of everything to start, but I settled on a glass of Prosecco with a blood orange ice cube. (great idea) and chickpea fritters. I was already in heaven- even before the main course. Everything was so fresh, light, and prepared with lots of love. Supposedly, Italians think Sicilians make the best food in Italy. (I think Piemonte food is right up there on top too.) As my friend suggested, I ordered the beef roll-ups and a small side salad of thinly sliced fennel and juice blood oranges. What a wonderful meal. All of the food was served on beautiful Sicilian pottery. Since I collect coffee cups, I purchased a set on my way out the door.
For the Sicilian Beef Roll-ups, I chose to use low fat cream cheese which isn’t very Italian. I wanted to keep it light. I think the traditional filling is probably shredded Fontina or Mozzarella cheese. I liked how I could mix the herbs and seasonings into the cream cheese. The cream cheese melted slightly, and was off set with the crunchy coating on the outside of the roll-ups. The sage leaves lightly flavored the dish.
Because we like to grill most of the summer, I would keep this main course for a rainy cool day in the summer, or as an autumn dish when the leaves begin to turn.. (Please see my version of the recipe below.)
Salute, Cin cin, Cent’anni,alla nostra!
Connie, author of Scratch That™ Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings,conniefairbanks.com
Sicilian Beef Roll-ups (adapted from Siciliainbocca in Rome)
1 ¼ pounds Sirloin tip, trimmed of any fat
4 ounces low fat cream cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced, plus four whole sage leaves
1 tablespoon onion, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4-6 pieces prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Olive oil to coat bottom of skillet
If sirloin is thick, cut it in half to make a flatter piece. Flatten each piece to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut into 6 inch by 3 inch wide pieces, or your desired size. Sprinkle each piece with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Mix the filling ingredients together. Place about a tablespoon filling on each piece of meat, spreading it around, and leaving ½ inch edges free of filling. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each piece of meat. Roll into small cylinders, and set aside. (At this point, they could be covered, and refrigerated until the coating stage.)
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Coat with olive oil to about ½ inch thick. Add the fresh sage leaves and heat both.
Prepare the three bowls for coating: seasoned flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs. Dredge each roll-up in the seasoned flour, then egg wash, and then bread crumbs.
Sauté each roll-up in the hot oil and sage leaves, being careful not to crowd them. Brown on each side of the cylinder. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper toweling. Serve immediately. Garnish with sage leaves.
Serves: 2 -3 as an entree
Connie’s Notes: In the winter time, I would make a sauce from the leftover pan drippings by adding some wine to deglaze the pan, add some half/half, and a little beef stock. Reduce and pour over the roll-ups.