Involtini may not strike a large swathe of the population as an exciting dish and that’s as may be … but my retort to that is: does food ALWAYS have to be exciting? I think it always has to be good and be a pleasure to eat but … is excitement always the key or only element to pleasure? Surely true excitement is a pleasure precisely because it is occasional and not an every-day phenomenon? Does that make me Cromwellian? Puritanical, purse-lipped and prim?
All I am saying is that involtini, i.e. meat rolls or wraps, are an ingenious way of making the most of thin slices of meat without drawing ooohs and aaahs of gastronomic praise: delectable discretion is more their style. And because they are cooked in a tomato sauce, the latter takes on some of its meaty taste and makes for an excellent pasta sauce. So they are generous too.
Just to carry on this hausfrau mood of mine today, I will also stand in praise of the ultimate kitchen gadget: the pressure cooker. It’s great for stews, it’s great for soups, it’s great for many a recipe and it’s definitely the business when it comes to involtini.
INGREDIENTS – 1 large can of plum tomatoes or tomato sauce, glass of wine, tube of concentrated tomato puré, 1 teaspoon of sugar, olive oil, garlic, slices of beef, slices of mortadella, salt and pepper.
Carrots, celery, parsely – either chop them yourself or use a food processor.
The slice of meat …
Pat a little olive oil all over the slice of meat and sprinkle a little salt and pepper too, if you like.
Here is a slice of mortadella. You could use prosciutto instead (Parma ham). Lay the slice on top of the meat:
Then add the chopped celery, carrots and parsley:
And now the rolling begins, the involtino can be ‘wrapped’.
First one end …
Then the opposite end.
Start to roll the involtino …
And you have finished, secure both or just one end with a toothpick.
Here are all six involtini ready for the next part.
Get a glass and squeeze some tomato puré (concentrato di pomodoro) into it, then pour some wine and give it a good stir.
Now you will need a saucepan with some olive oil in it …
In my haste to take photographs for this post, I forgot to add garlic! Anyway … just so you know … this is the time to add a few cloves of garlic. Use your imagination … After that:
Add the rest of the chopped celery, carrots and parsley and cook for a few minutes so that the garlic (non-existent in the photo) can sauté to a golden colour.
Now add the involtini … turning them so that they brown them all over.
And now we can add the glass of wine and tomato puré:
It’s a shame that photos cannot impart scent!!! The aroma is very inviting at this stage, mmmmm. Switch off the heat.
Open the can of tomatoes and plop them into the pressure cooker. Use a potato masher to squelch the tomatoes into a thickish sauce. Add some salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Place the involtini inside the pressure cooker …
Scrape the bottom of the saucepan, we want all the juices and tastes.
Place the lid on, secure the pressure cooker and turn on heat. Cook for 30 minutes.
Here are the involtini swimming in their dark red, thick and juicy heady sauce. Involtini may not be exciting but they are unabashedly inviting! Especially when you’re hungry ….
Out of the pressure cooker onto a serving dish …
Add plenty of sauce.
Involtini come with a lot of sauce that needs mopping up. Bread, of course, is essential. But one can substitute with boiled potatoes — just plain ol’ boiled potatoes, nothing fancy –they are a perfect match. Plain involtini, plain boiled potatoes. And for veggies sake … I thought that a sauté of sliced courgettes/zucchini could be co-opted to good advantage.
Spuds … ‘nature’ (‘nature’ being French for plain).
Courgettes … zucchini …
Dinner. Not exciting, not hip, not new, nothing to write home about, no contemporary twist, no revisitations … just good. Good is very good sometimes.
And don’t forget … you can make a fantastic pasta dish with the leftover sauce!