there's very little fat and no heavy sauces, the
winter dish of bollito misto is a lighter meal than
one would think -- regardless of the weather.
it’s hardly bollito misto weather. But we can pretend. At
least once every winter, I need to make the "mixed
boiled meats" of northern Italy, one of the easiest and
most festive meals I know. By rights, snow should be deep
outside the window, but here we are, with the temperature
nowhere near freezing. Only a few days ago, we were walking
around in shorts. And you know what? Bollito misto suits
milder weather just fine.
had it in Modena served from elaborate silver carts in a
posh restaurant, at my friend Elena’s house in Milan and,
most memorably, in Piedmont, land of Barbaresco and Barolo
— and also an extraordinary breed of cattle called razza
Piemontese. That’s the 4-year-old "veal," used
to make the region’s famous carne cruda — raw meat
hand-chopped and perfumed with just a thread of olive oil
and maybe a drop of lemon or a shaving of white truffles.
December, the market town of Carru is the site of the fiera
di bue grasso ("fair of the fattened livestock").
It may be snowing, it may be bitter cold, but the proud
owners bring out their beasts and parade them before the
judges. "It’s like a beauty contest, almost like
judging bodybuilding," Emmanuella Currado Cordero, a
local veterinarian, told me.
the winners, the mayor and the butchers convene at
Ristorante Moderno to feast on boiled calf’s head, tongue,
tail and various parts of the animal.
dining room has travertine floors, plain wood wainscot and
wooden chairs with rush seats. The sole decorations are
framed menus from the 1920s and ‘30s and a collection of
antique plates from the once-famous ceramic center of
Mondovi. Once you sit down, a server will propose antipasti
one by one. And then she’ll list the primi, perhaps a
risotto or the famous tajarin (tagliatelle) of the region.
easy, because soon a cart will roll up to the table laden
with the bollito misto, and you’ll be asked which meats
you prefer — a little calf’s head, oxtail, short ribs,
brisket, chicken, cotechino sausage — or tongue? A little
of each is a good idea. And maybe some potato puree.
meat comes with several sauces, including a sharp, fragrant
bagnet verd (a.k.a. salsa verde), some mostardo (preserved
fruits with mustard) and a hazelnut and wild honey sauce, a
house specialty. Usually, there’s also cugna, a grape
conserve made from fresh grape must and pears cooked
together with a cinnamon stick and a few cloves.
course you’re drinking Piedmontese wine — maybe a
velvety Barbera from Vietti, an expressive Barbaresco from
Gaja or Produttori del Barbaresco (depending on how flush
you’re feeling) or a profound Barolo from Sandrone, Altare
a feast to be savored over hours, bite by bite, sip by sip.
Each of the meats has been cooked in the simmering broth
until it’s perfectly done. And though the dish sounds
dishearteningly plain, because of the quality of the
ingredients, it has a clarity of taste that can be a
revelation. Those piquant sauces add just enough contrast to
keep things interesting.
plain meal, too, shows off the gorgeous wines. And because
there’s very little fat and no heavy sauces, bollito misto
is a lighter meal than you’d think, a wonderful way to
honor all the various parts of the animal.
not have a cattle fair here, but there’s no reason we can’t
celebrate winter with bollito misto.
hours. Serves 10 to 12
onions, roughly chopped
stalks of celery, roughly chopped
carrots, roughly chopped
sprig of rosemary
12 whole black peppercorns
pounds beef short ribs
or veal tongue
small chicken (21/2 to 3 pounds)
2 to 2
1/2 pounds cotechino sausage or other fatty pork sausage,
pricked with a pin or fine knife
verd, for serving (recipe below)
and honey sauce, for serving (recipe below)
a very large pot, combine the onions, celery, carrots,
rosemary, cloves, peppercorns, short ribs, brisket, oxtail,
calf’s foot and tongue, chicken and garlic. Add enough
water to cover all of the meats and vegetables, and bring to
a boil. After 10 to 15 minutes, reduce the heat and continue
to simmer to gently cook the meats.
While the meats are stewing in the large pot, in a smaller
pot cover the sausage with enough water to cover. Bring to a
simmer and cook until the sausage is firm and cooked
through, about 1 hour. Drain and hold in a warm place.
Continue to cook the meats in the large pot until each are
cooked through, 1 to 2 1/2 hours, then remove to a platter
and hold in a warm place. The chicken will be done when the
meat is firm and the joints move easily, and a thermometer
inserted into the meat between the breast and thigh reaches
165 degrees, about an hour. The short ribs, brisket and
oxtail will be done when a knife pierces easily, about 2
hours. The tongue will also be done when a knife pierces
easily, 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the tongue;
as soon as the tongue is done, remove and peel the outer
layer of skin while the tongue is hot (the skin will be
harder to peel as the tongue cools).
Strain the vegetables and flavorings from the broth, and
bring the broth to a simmer to reduce it slightly, 20 to 30
minutes. While the broth is reducing, prepare the sauces.
When the broth is almost ready, carve the meats and arrange
on the platter. Spoon a little broth over the meats to
moisten, and serve with the bagnet verd and, if you like,
the hazelnut and honey sauce and a jar of mostarda.
large handful of Italian parsley leaves
whole salt-packed anchovies, filleted, or 6 anchovy fillets
salt-cured capers, soaked in water and drained
1 tablespoon chopped onion
small dried hot red chile, rehydrated and finely diced
tablespoon red wine vinegar, more to taste
tablespoons bread crumbs
cup extra-virgin olive oil, more if desired, preferably from
Finely chop together the parsley, garlic, anchovies, capers,
celery, onion and chile. Combine in a bowl and add the salt,
vinegar and oil, stirring together. The mixture should have
the consistency of a thick sauce. Adjust the texture,
consistency and flavorings as desired. This makes about half
a cup of bagnet verd.
AND HONEY SAUCE
wildflower honey, preferably unfiltered and natural
teaspoon ground mustard
cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
small spoon of broth, optional, to thin the sauce if needed
small bowl, combine the honey, mustard and hazelnuts. If the
honey is dense and thick, thin the sauce with a tablespoon
or so of broth, adding just a tiny amount at a time. The
sauce should have a creamy consistency. This makes a
generous cup of sauce.
OF 12 SERVINGS
fat 13 grams
short ribs, brisket, oxtail, calf’s foot and tongue are
available at most well-stocked meat counters; check with
your butcher for availability or ordering. The cotechino
sausage is available at select Italian import markets and