The White House invited Mario Batali to design the menu and serve as chef for President Obama’s final State Dinner, when he hosted the prime minister of Italy. We asked Mario to share his recipe for the main entrée.

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This article appeared in the March Food Issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.
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Mario Batali shares …

The ground rules for the state dinner menu were fairly simple: 1. Dishes should be Italian-inspired to honor Prime Minister Renzi, and 2. Use only American ingredients. My intention was to offer dishes that are festive and unexpected, but appeal to a wide and diverse audience. We came up with a handful of options, and then-First Lady Michelle Obama made the final call. As always, she chose with smarts, wisdom and a keen understanding of deliciousness. –Mario

The Recipe:
Beef Braciole Pinwheel Style with Horseradish and Green Apple Gremolata


  • 6 15-inch long pieces of twine
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced salami, cut into matchsticks
  • 8 ounces Italian fontina, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes
  • 1⁄2  cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1⁄2  cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 10-inch-long beef tenderloin roast cut from the heart of the tenderloin (21⁄2 to 3 pounds), butterflied (see note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Horseradish and Green Apple Gremolata

  • 1 cup of green apple cut into matchsticks
  • 1  cup of fresh horseradish cut into matchsticks
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sautéed Broccoli Rabe

  • 4 cups broccoli rabe
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

Mario Batali state dinnerDirections

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, scallions, parsley, salami, fontina, Parmigiano, and bread crumbs and mix well. Add 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil and mix well with your hands or a spoon. Set aside.

Cut six 15-inch-long pieces of kitchen twine. Open out the beef, season on both sides with salt and pepper, and place it on a work surface so a long side is toward you. Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the beef, leaving a 1⁄2-inch border along the side farthest from you; press and gently pack the stuffing mixture onto the beef to keep it in place (you may have a little stuffing left over—it makes a great panini filling). Starting from the side nearest you, roll up the meat like a jelly roll, pressing any stuffing that falls out of the ends back into the roll, and tie tightly with the twine, spacing the ties evenly (it’s easier if you have a friend tie the beef while you hold the roll). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to make a compact roll. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

To make the gremolata, combine the horseradish and green apple matchsticks in a medium mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and mix well by hand.

To prepare the broccoli rabe, trim stems, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the greens and blanch until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes, and plunge into an ice bath. In a medium sautée pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic and stir to be sure it doesn’t burn. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until the greens are flavored and cooked through with a slight bite, about 5 minutes. Finish with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Carefully unwrap the beef roll and, using a very sharp knife, cut it between the ties into six 11⁄2-inch-thick pinwheels. Brush gently on both sides with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Gently lay the pinwheels in a hot nonstick sautée pan and cook, unmoved, for 5 to 7 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn each pinwheel over and cook for 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. (Don’t be alarmed if some of the cheese in the stuffing starts to melt and char, making kind of a savory Florentine-cookie-like thing; but if you find it charring too much, lower the heat to medium. Transfer to a platter and serve over broccoli rabe with a nice garnish of gremolata.

Note: To butterfly the beef, simply use a sharp knife to cut it horizontally almost but not all the way in half, starting from one of the long sides, so you can open it out like a book. (Also, good demonstration videos online.)

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Photo(s) by Dave Weidner