Farsu magru

Sicilian Stuffed Beef Roll with Tomatoes and Red Wine

I prepare farsu magru, also known as farsumauru, just to get the sugo for pasta. Literally the name means “false lean,” perhaps because you are making something rich out of particularly lean ingredients. In other words, a little meat goes a long way. Outside of Sicily, this dish is usually considered a braciolone, that is, a big meat roll. You can serve the sliced meat with any starch you like, but be sure to save a good amount of the sauce for the next day’s rigatoni. The sauce will also keep in the refrigerator for a few days and may even be frozen. Sicilians also serve the sliced meat roll at room temperature accompanied with a fennel salad.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds top sirloin steak or round steak, in one piece
  • ¾ pound ground beef
  • 6 eggs, 2 raw, 4 hard-boiled, peeled but left whole
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 slices coarse country bread, crusts removed and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ pound mortadella, thinly sliced
  • ¼ pound prosciutto, thinly sliced but not paper-thin
  • ¼ pound provolone cheese, cut into strips
  • ½ inch square and 3 inches long
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 cups tomato purée

Method

First butterfly the steak: Using a long, sharp knife, cut it nearly in half horizontally, stopping within about ½ inch of the opposite side. Open it up to lie relatively flat, like a book. Place it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat pounder, pound as thin as possible without tearing the meat.

In a bowl, combine the ground beef, raw eggs, parsley, bread, Parmesan cheese, and a little salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix well, then pat the mixture in a uniform layer over the meat. Top evenly with the mortadella and then the prosciutto. Trim off the round ends of each hard-boiled egg, then arrange the eggs in a line down the center of the filling. Place the provolone cheese strips on either side of the eggs, distributing them evenly. Working from a long side, carefully roll up the steak, then tie with kitchen string at regular intervals along the length of the roll to secure it.

In a heavy skillet or sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat. Add the meat roll and brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a Dutch oven.

Drain off the burned oil from the skillet, add 2 or 3 tablespoons fresh oil, and place over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute longer. Add the onions to the Dutch oven along with the wine and tomato purée, mixing well. Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender, 2 to 2½ hours.

Transfer the meat to a carving board, reserving the pan sauce in the pot, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Snip the strings on the meat and cut into slices about ¼ inch thick. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter. Meanwhile, rehèat the sauce to serving temperature and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the meat, then serve.

Wine

Your house table red will be fine here, but if you want to stay in Sicily, look for a red from Planeta, Cos, Regaleali, Morgante, or Abbazia Sant’ Anastasia.

Variations

Some recipes call for baby beef or veal, which will cook in about 1½ hours. Others use caciocavallo cheese in place of the provolone and add a few strips of green onion to the stuffing. And still others call for roasting the meat in a 350°F oven for about 3 hours and basting it with white wine.