Orecchiette with Braciole alla Barese (beef rolls)

Orecchiette with Braciole alla Barese (beef rolls); recipe from Puglia.

This rich and tasty traditional orecchiette with braciole alla Barese recipe comes from Bari in the Southern Italian region of Puglia (Apulia). Like many similar Italian ‘Sunday sauce’ recipes, it takes a while to cook, but the result is melt in your mouth filled beef rolls in a thick flavourful tomato sauce.

(click to go straight to recipe page)

Orecchiette with braciole alla Barese (beef rolls)

Sunday Sauce!

In many Italian-American families they refer to slow cooked tomato and meat pasta sauces as ‘Sunday sauce’. Italians say ‘sugo della domenica’, meaning the same thing. These types of pasta sauce are so named because they are traditionally cooked and served on Sundays or national holidays.

Orecchiette with braciole alla Barese (beef rolls)

In the Southern Italian regions ‘Sunday sauce’ is usually made with different  types of meat, in large pieces not ground.  The sauce usually takes hours to cook and this is most probably why it’s a dish reserved for holidays and Sundays. Plus, the pasta is often homemade, another time consuming but worthwhile task.

ingredients for braciole alla Barese (beef rolls) on white plate

Depending on the region or even the cook, the meat in these sauces can be sausages, pork ribs, pork chops, meatballs, chunks of meat or, like in this orecchiette with braciole alla Barese, filled meat rolls. Italians also call these ‘involtini’.  Some traditional ‘Sunday sauce’ recipes also include types of offal or more than one type of meat. For example Neapolitan ragu is made with braising beef, pork ribs and braciole.

how to make braciole alla Barese (beef rolls)

Many of these sauces are served as two courses. As is traditional with this orecchiette with braciole alla Barese, the meat infused tomato sauce is served over pasta and the braciole are eaten as a main course (secondo in Italian). However, they can be eaten together as a very hearty one dish meal.

ready prepared uncooked beef rolls for braciole alla Barese in white dish

This orecchiette with braciole alla Barese recipe.

Orecchiette with braciole alla Barese is one of the most loved and well-known ‘Sunday’  dishes in Bari, Puglia (Apulia).  The braciole (in local dialect ‘brasciole’) are beef or veal rolls. The original recipe is made with horse meat. The rolls are made with a filling of parsley, garlic, pecorino cheese and, sometimes, lardo or prosciutto. They are cooked very slowly in a tomato sauce that becomes a thick tasty ragù which has been infused with the flavour of the meat.

beef rolls and onions in frying pan for braciole alla Barese

Making this dish

You’ll need some thin cuts of lean beef (usually top or bottom round roast). For 4 people, you can either assemble 4 medium-sized braciole if you’re going to serve them separately without pasta. 8-10 small ones are better for serving with the pasta. (I made smaller ones as we ate them with the pasta)

browned beef rolls and onions in frying pan for orecchiette with braciole alla Barese

What is lardo?

I added Italian lardo to the filling and to the sauce. Lardo is pig back fat which has been preserved in various ways and is also eaten on bread or added to recipes such as this one for ziti pasta with Italian lardo from Naples. It’s not lard, which in Italian is ‘strutto’. Instead of lardo,  you can use slices of Parma ham or pancetta. The recipe I followed also included some chopped fresh peperoncino, which gave the braciole a slightly spicy taste. We love our food spicy.  But, if you don’t, leave the red chili pepper out.

Italian braciole/beef rolls and tomato sauce in orange Dutch oven

The Pasta.

In Puglia, this dish is traditionally served with orecchiette. Orecchiette is the most well-known  of Pugliese pasta and has been made and eaten there since the 12th or 13th century! However, other short pasta would work well too. I would suggest fusilli, penne, Sardinian gnocchi (malloreddus) or casarecce.

cooked beef rolls in tomato sauce in orange Dutch oven (braciole alla Barese)

Worth every minute it takes to cook.

Although this dish takes over 2 hours or more to make, it’s not difficult to do. Also, the end result is so worth the wait. Your kitchen will be filled with such a mouthwatering aroma that your family and/or guests will be salivating with anticipation. They won’t be disappointed!

If you make this recipe I’d love to hear how it turns out and if you liked it. Please leave a comment here on the blog or on The Pasta Project Facebook page. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Buon appetito!

(go to next page to see recipe. Just scroll down and click 2)

Orecchiette with braciole alla Barese (beef rolls)

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  • Avatar
    Jenni LeBaron
    October 28, 2019 7:29 pm

    This orecchiette with braciole alla Barese is so delicious looking. I love that you’ve included so much of the history of this dish and the sauces in this post too!

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    October 27, 2019 3:28 pm

    I think I am learning just as much about Italy as I do about Italian food, which is great. Speaking about the orecchiette, I don’t think I have tried this one yet, so something to be really looking forward to.

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    Linda | Brunch-n-Bites
    July 16, 2018 2:51 am

    I’ve never seen pasta this fun! This looks like a summer family for everyone in the house.

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    Stephanie Simmons
    July 16, 2018 2:21 am

    Oh my – this looks absolutely delicious!! I know my husband would love this for dinner

  • Avatar
    Fred Nonterahf
    July 15, 2018 11:09 am

    Delicious looking meal!

  • Avatar
    Fred Nonterah
    July 15, 2018 10:50 am

    This meal looks really inviting and I’d love to try it. It looks quite simple, I might try it on a cool summer evening. Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    July 15, 2018 2:49 am

    Wow! This looks fantastic! I wish I could get veal where I live. I’ll try it with beef whenever I’m in the mood for an authentic Italian meal!

    • Jacqui
      July 15, 2018 9:59 am

      Thanks Daniela, I’m happy you like this recipe! It’s great with beef, that’s what I use. Am sure you’ll enjoy this authentic dish!

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    Samantha H.
    July 15, 2018 1:55 am

    Orecchiette is so super cute! This dish looks incredibly flavorful, I can’t wait to make it!

    • Jacqui
      July 15, 2018 10:00 am

      Grazie Samantha! Yes, I love orecchiette pasta too! It’s actually one of the oldest types of pasta here in Italy. Its perfect in this dish!

  • Avatar
    Chef Mireille
    July 14, 2018 8:21 pm

    I love learning about the regional differences of Italian cuisine and orecchiete does happen to be one of my fave pasta shapes the way it drinks up a sauce Sadly, it is not very common here so when I find it I stock up 🙂

    • Jacqui
      July 15, 2018 10:03 am

      Thanks Mireille! It’s amazing how many different regional recipes there are, even just for pasta! I love discovering new ones too. Orecchiette is actually pretty easy to make at home. Maybe you should try making it yourself!

  • Avatar
    July 13, 2018 4:28 pm

    I have never tried the orecchiette pasta, but your recipe looks so inviting that I will surely try it. Loved the colours and presentation

    • Jacqui
      July 14, 2018 1:05 pm

      Orecchiette is a great type of pasta Aditi and one of the oldest here in Italy. I hope that you will get to try it one day!

  • Avatar
    July 13, 2018 3:56 pm

    Mmmm, that’s an interesting idea for serving pasta. Like to see beef in this dish. And orecchiette is one of my favorite pastas. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      July 14, 2018 1:07 pm

      Thanks Helen, Orecchiette is one of my favourite pasta types too! This type of recipe and way of eating pasta is very traditional in Southern Italy on family occasions. Def one to try!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    July 13, 2018 10:49 am

    Sounds like a delicious Sunday family dinner! There are a lot of things here I haven’t heard about, but by the looks of it it seems like something I could eat right now. Thank you for sharing.

  • Avatar
    Adriana Lopez Martin
    July 12, 2018 10:37 pm

    The orecchiette pasta is one of my favs so much fun and captures enough sauce on every bite. Lovely dish indeed. I bet Sundays are best days of the week for enjoying a nice pasta dish

  • Avatar
    July 12, 2018 8:21 pm

    Loving this twist on spaghetti and meatballs. Past and meat rolls sounds delicoius to me. I love trying new cuisines. This looks like a fun and tasty experiment. You can never go wrong with a great pasta recipe for dinner any night of the week.

  • Avatar
    July 12, 2018 8:02 pm

    I am in love with orecchiette any day of the week! I think it’s one of the best pastas…and it’s no wonder it’s been around for so long! Love the beef rolls too…just yummmm all around!

  • Avatar
    July 12, 2018 7:48 pm

    Your recipe comes at there right time Jacqui, as we are expecting guests who spent their last vacation in Italy. Hopefully I can prolong their holidays a bit with these excellent Orecchiette with Braciole alla Barese.

  • Avatar
    Jessica Formicola
    July 12, 2018 7:27 pm

    This is my kind of pasta! It looks wonderful!

  • Avatar
    July 12, 2018 6:00 pm

    This looks so fabulous. I’ve never had braciole alla barese beef rolls!! I want these beef rolls in my life and not just on Sunday! 😉

  • Avatar
    Corina Blum
    July 5, 2018 12:56 pm

    These look delicious and so good for a Sunday lunch! Id definitely like to try them.

  • Avatar
    July 4, 2018 7:50 pm

    It is nice to find out where the term “Sunday sauce” is coming from. And the fact that you can use other types of short pasta makes this recipe perfect!

    • admin
      July 5, 2018 8:56 am

      Thanks so much Helena! I love that expression ‘Sunday sauce’. It’s interesting that many American-Italians and Italians in Italy say basically the same thing And eat dishes like this on Sundays! Hugs from Verona! Jacqui

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