Bragioli (beef olives)

Despite being called 'beef olives', these stuffed Maltese steaks don't contain any olives. They are essentially steaks stuffed with meatballs, so definitely one for meat lovers!

This recipe is taken from Malta by Simon Bajada (Hardie Grant, £26).

First published in 2023

This Maltese staple does not actually contain olives. The word ‘olive’ in reference to sliced meat encasing a stuffing comes from the old French word ‘alou’, meaning lark. The shape of the meat rolls was thought to resemble these birds without their heads. For celebratory occasions, Maltese families are sure to grace the table with bragioli. Each household has its own version, with some using boiled eggs in the stuffing, and others braising the olives in tomato ragu or adding spice. My recipe honours the dish’s fundamentals, using old bread and smoked pork, and peas to finish the sauce. Serve bragioli with boiled or mashed potatoes and a salad. The sauce is traditionally enjoyed over spaghetti as an entree.







To make the stuffing, combine the minced meats, speck, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly


Using a mallet or heavy glass bottle, pound the steaks between pieces of plastic wrap until 5 mm–1 cm (1/4–1/2 in) thick. Thinner is better, but be careful not to tear the meat

  • 8 topside steak, thinly cut, or round beef steaks (around 600 g/1 lb 5 oz)

Take an eighth of the filling and place it in the middle of a flattened steak. Fold one end of the steak over the filling, tuck in the sides, and roll up. Secure with toothpicks or tie with kitchen string and place on a plate seam-side down. Continue to make rolls with the remaining steak and stuffing


Season the rolls on both sides. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add the oil and beef olives. Gently colour them on two sides, then transfer to a plate

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

In the same pan, begin the sauce by sautéing the onion, garlic and carrot with the olive oil over a medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes without browning, then add the tomato paste, wine, stock, bay leaves, some salt and pepper and the beef olives. The liquid should come at least a third of the way up the beef (top up with water if needed)


Place a lid or foil over the pan and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour. Turn the olives after 30 minutes and check the liquid level, adding water if necessary. Finish with the peas, cooking for a few minutes more. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving

  • 150g of peas, rinsed if frozen
First published in 2023

Simon Bajada is an Australian photographer and food writer currently living in Sweden. He has previously worked as a chef and food stylist, and written four cookbooks. His latest cookbook, Malta, was released in 2023.

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