Little Ears with Beef Rolls

Orecchiette con Braciolette

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Italian Regional Cookery

Italian Regional Cookery

By Valentina Harris

Published 1990

  • About

From Puglia comes this very typical one-pot meal, in which the meat is cooked in a rich sauce. The sauce is used to dress the pasta and becomes the first course; then the meat is served as a second course with vegetables. Alternatively, you can eat it all together and serve cheese and salad to follow. In Puglia horsemeat is quite likely to be used for this dish. Orecchiette is the most widely used pasta form in Puglia. Very heavy and thick, and slightly spongy when cooked, it is made by hand and is supposed to resemble little animal ears. It takes a longer time to cook than other dried durum wheat pastas.


  • 4 oz (100 g) pancetta or fat bacon
  • 4 oz (100 g) pecorino or Lancashire cheese
  • 1 ¼ lb (500 g) beef steak (rump or sirloin), in 4 slices
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 glass red wine
  • ¼ teaspoon beef extract
  • 1 X 14 oz (400 g) can tomatoes, sieved
  • 14 oz (400 g) orecchiette or other small stubby pasta shape


Cut the pancetta or bacon and the cheese into slices roughly the same size as the slices of beef. The pancetta and cheese must sit comfortably on top of the meat. Trim the meat of gristle and fat, then flatten it out with a meat mallet. Put the pancetta, cheese, a few leaves of parsley and a piece of garlic on top of each slice of meat and season generously. Roll the meat up around the filling and tie it securely with cook’s string.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until it is softened. Lay the beef rolls in the onion and brown the meat thoroughly all over. Pour the wine over the beef, raise the heat and cook for about 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. (When you can no longer smell wine, this operation is complete.) Add the beef extract and the tomatoes, stir carefully and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, toss in the orecchiette and stir. Cook for about 15–20 minutes or until tender, then drain and return to the pan. Remove the beef rolls from their sauce and set them aside to keep warm until required. Pour the sauce all over the orecchiette and toss together thoroughly.

Transfer to a warm platter. If you are going to serve everything together, arrange the beef rolls on top. Alternatively, serve the pasta and the sauce first and have the meat afterwards.