As a kid growing up in Carmel, Nick Roberts, the chef-owner of Beechwood and Hudson House with his wife and chef-partner Brooke Williamson,

spent more time perfecting his onion chopping technique than his surfing moves. “I'm not Italian but I was raised by Italians,” he says.

After his parents divorced when he was a toddler, Roberts inherited a set of step-grandparents whose family hailed from Bari, Italy. “I learned a lot from my nonni,” he says of his Italian step-grandmother, who taught him how to make the braciole (stuffed beef rolled into cigar-like shapes and simmered in tomato sauce) recipe after the jump.

“A lot of pasta,” recalls Roberts of what he cooked during his days as a diaper-clad sous chef. “I always thought I was going to cook Italian [professionally], I loved that rustic side early in my career.” Today, Roberts describes his overall cooking style as “more French influenced — I love French — though what I do now is really more of a hybrid.” Squid Ink is betting that Roberts' nonni might get a bit riled up should she get wind of her grandson's purported defection to foie gras terrines (though in his defense, the Hudson House menu does pay proper tribute to meatballs). And besides, it's nothing that a generous glass of Chianti and a pot of braciole, which Roberts cooks up in copious quantities for family reunions, can't resolve.


Adapted from Nick Roberts.

Note: You can find kitchen-worthy twine at hardware stores, restaurant supply stores such as Smart & Final, and Surfas. For the fullest flavor, make the braciole a day or two ahead and reheat it before serving with crusty bread.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings.

Weeknight Crafts: Tie, Then Trim; Credit: Jenn Garbee

Weeknight Crafts: Tie, Then Trim; Credit: Jenn Garbee

1 1/2 to 2-pound beef tri-tip

1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, packed

1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil, more as needed

1/4 cup red wine

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Tomato sauce, see below

1. Thinly slice the meat approximately ¼-inch thick. You should have about 24 slices. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, parsley and Romano cheese. Spread about ¾-teaspoon of the mixture onto each sirloin round. Roll each round like a cigar, firmly tie in two places with kitchen string (about 1-inch from the end on both sides), and trim off any excess ends of string.

3. Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan with a lid. Sear half the beef rolls until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate, wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining beef rolls. Add the reserved beef rolls and their juices to the pan along with the wine, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of the pan.

4. Add the tomato sauce, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 3 hours. Remove the beef from the pan to cool slightly. Snip the string from each roll with scissors, then return them to the pan. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve the 3 to 4 braciole per person with a generous spoonful of sauce and crusty bread.

Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup onion, finely diced

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, sliced

1 cup of fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 28-ounce can of whole stewed tomatoes, drained and broken into small pieces

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon diced fresh basil leaves, or ½ teaspoon dried basil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat sauté the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer until the tomatoes have broken down, about one hour. Add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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