Over the Tuscan stove
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Over the Tuscan stove

My husband Andrea is the happiest when I make bollito misto for the holidays the dish that keeps on giving. I like to make it the day before the meal. We begin our meal with chicken liver crostini, serve tortellini in brodo as the first course, and the boiled meats

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Thu 15 Dec 2005 1:00 AM

My husband Andrea is the happiest when I make bollito misto for the holidays the dish that keeps on giving. I like to make it the day before the meal. We begin our meal with chicken liver crostini, serve tortellini in brodo as the first course, and the boiled meats for the main course, along with the vegetables that were cooked in the broth.

 

The best parts of bollito misto are the sauces on the side! Traditionally, olive oil and salt are the base, then salsa verde, mostarda di Cremona (candied mustard fruits), and perhaps mayonnaise or mustard.

 

Nerbone’s in the Central Market serves a fabulous Panino with Bollito. They serve it on a Rosetta roll, with salsa verde and chili sauce for the brave! I also ask for the bread to be bagnato, dipped in the cooking juices.

 

My favorite dishes are with the leftover bollito misto. I love lesso rifatto, where the beef is cooked with twice the amount of red onions stewed with the beef and red wine. True comfort food!

 

If you are really eating, this is the extravaganza! Try a double first course, such as the pasta served in sugo. The sugo is from cooking the second main course, stracotto, served with sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes. Andrea always wants a tray of mixed roast meats veal, pork, rabbit, beef, and perhaps a special pig’s liver wrapped in caul fat, roasted with bay leaves, and basted with Vin Santo.

 

Usually these meals are for a minimum of 10 to 15 close family members. Families either do the bollito misto, or roast meats, or game, if you have a hunter in the house. Some families prefer fish.

However, excess is the key! The main meal is at lunchtime. After the main course, the dried fruits (dates, figs, and nuts) are brought out. Panettone, panforte, ricciarelli, and other sweets follow this. After all this, you need  a digestivo (an after-dinner drink) that helps you digest the feast. After a couple of rounds of cards or bingo game called tombola, it all starts again!

 

Bollito Misto

 

This is true comfort food! I usually make the lesso to have the broth and the lesso rifatto. I freeze any leftover broth in small serving sizes so I can easily reheat!

 

2-1/2 pounds mixed cuts of beef (muscle, tongue, etc. for boiling)

2 beef bones

1 onion, peeled and left whole

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths

1 celery stalk

1 tomato

Parsley

Sea salt to taste, about 2 tablespoons

One-half capon or boiling chicken, optional

 

Place all the ingredients in a large soup pot (except the capon) and cover with water and add salt. Bring to a slow boil, covered for 1 hour. Skim the surface. Add the chicken and cook for another hour. Control the beef to see if it is cooked. It should be very tender; the skin will easily come off the tongue.(I like to make this the night before so I can remove any excess fat from the broth.) Remove the beef and vegetables from the broth. Throw away the tomato, parsley, and beef bones. Strain the broth and replace the beef in the broth. Refrigerate overnight. Remove the solidified fat from the broth the next day. Reheatthe beef and the broth together.

 

To serve, remove enough broth for the soup. Heat the tortellini in broth and cook till done. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve the beef already cut and arranged on a serving plate with sauces as the main course with boiled vegetables.

 

Lesso Rifatto

 

1 pound leftover boiled meat, chopped into small cubes

1-1/2 pounds red onions, finely sliced

2 cups stewed tomatoes, or red wine

Olive oil

Salt

 

Sauté the onions in olive oil; when golden, add tomatoes or red wine. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the leftover beef and cook covered for an additional 20 minutes. To make this even richer, add some cubed raw potatoes to the pan with the onions.

 

Salsa Verde

 

1 cup Italian parsley,

leaves only

2 tablespoons capers

1 garlic clove

1 anchovy filet

Red wine vinegar, to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

1 slice white bread

 

Finely chop the parsley, capers, garlic, and anchovy, using a sharp knife. Put the mixture into a serving bowl and add olive oil and red wine vinegar. Adjust seasonings. Remove the crust from the slice of bread, and soak the bread in red wine vinegar. Then crumble the bread into sauce. (This is the poor man’s technique; the bread looks like pine nuts in the sauce! Instead you can add some chopped pine nuts!)

 

I love salsa verde on hot green beans and boiled potatoes. I also make an appetizer by removing the yolks from hardboiled eggs and blending them with the sauce. Refill the eggs and refrigerate before serving.

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