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Marche is an underrated region of Italy; not as famous as Tuscany or Umbria, but just as beautiful, historic, and fascinating as anyplace in this beautiful, historic and fascinating country. Comprised of four very different provinces, Marche includes forested, mountainous geography inland that transitions to a more arid, gently rolling landscape of golden hills and valleys toward the Adriatic. My fraternal grandfather was born and grew up in Marche, near the Adriatic in a tiny hill town called Scapezzano, and the home where he grew up is still owned and occupied by our Becci cousins, his brother’s descendants.
Urbino is a wonderful, historic hilltop town in northern Marche. It’s in a dramatically mountainous area, and is home to the University of Urbino, founded in 1506. Some of my cousins who grew up in Scapezzano attended the University of Urbino. Students at the university take classes in renovated Medieval and Baroque palaces in the center of town—no rolling green lawns or frat houses, as in the United States. During the academic year tourists stroll the picturesque streets along with gaggles of backpack-laden, laughing students checking their cell phones and calling out to one another between classes.
Arrosto d’Urbino is a wonderful comfort food from Urbino that evokes mountain forests, crisp air and cold days. I love the combination of beef and eggs to create a robust taste that can be paired with a medium-body red wine.
Ingredients and Directions:
• 1 lb skirt steak or braciole meat, pounded thin
• 2 eggs
• 2 tbsp chopped parsley
• 2 tbsp milk
• 1 tsp flour
• 3 oz prosciutto, sliced thin
• 3 oz mortadella, sliced thin
• 4 tbsp grated pecorino
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Olive oil
• 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
• 1 cup chicken or beef broth
• ½ cup white wine
• 1 small onion, chopped
• Kitchen string
• Non-stick fry pan in good condition
• Meat thermometer
1. Chop the prosciutto and mortadella into small pieces.
2. Combine the eggs and a pinch of salt in a bowl and whisk. Add the flour and whisk. Add the parsley, pecorino, milk and chopped meats. Grind a little pepper and gently whisk to incorporate.
3. Over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the non-stick pan. When hot, add the egg mixture and make a very thin frittata. When the underside is light brown, flip the frittata over and cook the other side. Don’t worry if the frittata breaks apart. When cooked, remove to cutting board or sheet pan.
4. Lay the sliced and pounded meat out on a work surface. Season with salt, pepper and chopped rosemary. Lay the frittata on the beef so that it is mostly covered. Roll up the beef and frittata together like a jelly roll and tie with in 4 or 5 places with kitchen twine.
5. In a regular sauté pan over medium heat, add a little olive oil. Salt and pepper the outside of the rolled meat. Brown the rolled meat all over by rotating it in the pan. About 10 minutes total. Remove to a board.
6. Add the chopped onion to the sauté pan and sauté until soft and translucent. Add a little olive oil if needed.
7. Add the broth and the wine to deglaze. Add the meat back to the pan over low heat and gently simmer for about 20 minutes or until the meat’s internal temperature has reached 135-degrees for medium-rare. Add more broth if the pan becomes dry.
8. Remove the meat to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.. Increase the heat on the sauté pan to reduce the onion, broth and wine mixture to a slightly thick sauce.
9. Remove the string from the rolled meat and slice into thick pinwheels. Serve and drizzle the sauce over the slices.
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Ital ian. Together, from opposite coasts, they coauthor the blog OurItalianTable.com.