Involtini di Podolica, Caciocavallo e Funghi Selvatici (Beef Rolled with Cheese and Wild Mushrooms)

This classic recipe for beef involtini comes from Francesco Mazzei's Mezzogiorno cookbook. This incredible Italian dish would make a fantastic dinner party main course.

Introduction

We don't have a big culture of cooking beef in the South. Buffalo are bred for mozzarella, but cattle has historically been a working animal. We used our cattle in the fields, so beef cattle were expensive and too much of the animal was wasted to make it a rewarding investment.

As the South has shed its economic shackles that is changing and the culture of using beef is growing. That said, involtini use the animal in a way that is in keeping with our culture of stretching meat to make it go further. Small quantities of beef are bashed until very thin, then rolled around a filling.

In Italy I would use beef from Podolica cows, which are bred in the Sila mountains. It’s a beautiful place where the cows graze outdoors all year round and the grass is iron-rich. The meat is lean, which means it is tougher, so you need to beat and rest it – to tenderise it before cooking and watch it carefully during the cooking to ensure it doesn’t dry out. In the UK, medallions are likely to come from grain-fed beef fillet and be fattier and more tender, which will ensure they remain moist.

Serves 4
Easy

Ingredients

800g beef medallions (about 60–70g each)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin on, halved
1 rosemary sprig
1 thyme sprig
400g mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed
10g flat–leaf parsley, finely chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
10g marjoram, finely chopped
50g mozzarella cheese, torn
60g pecorino cheese, grated
250g caciocavallo cheese or young, soft pecorino cheese or smoked or unsmoked scamorza, crumbled
30g '00' flour
200ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
5g parsely leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Place the beef medallions between two sheets of cling film and bash them with a rolling pin until they are each 5mm thick, then set aside.

In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium heat with the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and fry for a couple of minutes on a very high heat (be careful not to burn the garlic – remove it if necessary) until the mushrooms are browned and soft.

Let the mushrooms cool completely, then roughly chop two-thirds of them and place in a bowl. Add the herbs, mozzarella, grated pecorino and caciocavallo cheeses and mix well.

Put about a tablespoon of the mixture on the shorter ends of each slice of beef and roll up, being careful to enclose the ends of the rolls as you roll by tucking the sides in. Secure each roll with two rosemary sprigs or toothpicks.

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/ gas 6.

Season the rolls with salt and pepper and dust them with the flour. Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the rolls. Fry until seared and sealed all over, then pour in the white wine and allow it to evaporate. Add the reserved mushrooms and the chicken stick, then transfer to a large baking dish and place in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Check they are hot right through by sticking a toothpick into the centre of a couple of rolls; it should come out warm.

Lift the rolls out of the sauce into a serving dish and remove the rosemary or toothpicks. Stir the parsley into the sauce and pour over the rolls.

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