On Wednesday night of last week, I took my daughter to Spiaggia on Michigan Avenue for her birthday. It was her choice, and I’d never been, though I’d heard a lot about this innovative Italian restaurant, a favorite of President Obama’s, which recently garnered a Michelin star.

We had some excellent food, including a raw minced lamb with truffle, veal ravioli topped with fine threads of fried veal breast, and guinea hen wrapped in pancetta. Spectacular in many ways.

Jimmy’s Place in Forest Park is operating at the opposite end of the dining spectrum, offering homey rather than haute cuisine. No less satisfying though in very different ways.

We’ve been eating braciole (usually pronounced bra-shoal) at Jimmy’s for some years. It’s a family favorite.

Braciole is a flank steak, usually pounded and rolled around a mixture of breadcrumbs, Parmesan, herbs, pine nuts and sometimes raisins. It’s slow-cooked, so the threads of meat become tender yet remain chewy. This rolled flank steak at Jimmy’s is served in a red sauce with mostaccioli.

Braciole is not fancy; it’s home-style cooking, and it’s a fine way to render an inexpensive cut of meat tastier. Thorough slow cooking, it’s also a very effective way to make a lean and potentially drier and tougher piece of meat soft and flavorful. Because it’s lean meat, it’s low in fat.

Braciole is more Italian American than European Italian. Like Italian beef, Braciole is a dish you’d probably have a hard time finding in Italy.

Because it’s a meal more commonly found at home than in a restaurant, braciole is equally hard to find on restaurant menus. At Jimmy’s, the listing for braciole is put in boldface, because although it’s not being served in a home, braciole at Jimmy’s is a house favorite…especially at our house.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of LTHForum.com, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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