Waste not, want not. Chef Andrea Campani, of Florence’s Il Borro Tuscan Bistro, talks about the importance of the staff meal, how nothing should be thrown away in a professional kitchen and offers us a creative take on leftover chicken.
“We no longer buy a pig or a rabbit for the thigh alone; we buy the whole animal and research recipes that will allow us to use the whole rabbit. We use the entire chicken; we don’t take out its innards and throw it away like they did 30 years ago, when they ate a bit of the breast and the rest ended up in the bin. In my opinion, this is very much a part of rural life. Florentine cuisine comes from poorer traditions, but all the recipes have this common thread of never throwing anything away. These things are rooted in our origins. In the countryside around Florence, or even the areas around Siena and Arezzo, you’d get to the end of the day and you’d pull out something hearty and delicious for the farmers who had been working all day and who would need to do it over again come the morning. They would make a collo ripieno from just four ingredients. Now you can find that recipe all over the world, but back then stuffing a chicken’s neck was inventive. It was pretty much because that’s all that remained. Perhaps the farmer would have sold the chicken and all that was left over were the neck and feet, so they’d eat chicken feet stewed in tomatoes. The idea for our sold-out “boiled meats dinner” in the lead-up to Christmas came from a staff meal sharing some bollito and chatting with colleagues and sommeliers. Apart from mixed boiled meats, we cooked cotechino ravioli, which has become something of a signature dish, and tagliolini pasta in chicken broth and chicken feet. For us, staff meals are an intimate and thrilling moment, as we try to bring together everything that happened during the day. Just think of a theatre company, before the curtain comes up, we go “on stage” twice a day, 365 days a year. Sometimes it’s just when we have fun, while there are occasions when it’s an important moment to prepare for service. When cooking for the staff, for example, I ask everyone to pay the same attention they give when cooking for the restaurant. It’s a time for us to be together, to share things, to get to know one another, to learn to trust one another and form a team.”
Chicken dog by Andrea Campani
This recipe is a way of using up leftover chicken; it’s very much part of my waste not, want not philosophy in the kitchen and at home.
Leftover boiled chicken
Fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
Mixed salad leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh chilli pepper
Skin and bone the leftover boiled chicken and process with a handheld blender. Add a little salt and a pinch of pepper. Whisk the eggs and stir into the chicken until smooth. Add a few thyme leaves. Transfer the mixture onto plastic wrap and shape into a hot dog.
Cook the hot dog still in the plastic wrap in simmering water at 90-95°C. Make sure that the water isn’t boiling, otherwise the chicken dog will swell up, break and lose its shape. Set aside to cool.
Lightly brown and heat the chicken dog in a non-stick frying pan, without any fat or oil.
Serve in a dish with mixed salad leaves dressed with wholegrain mustard, a few slices of red onion, extra-virgin olive oil and a couple of drops of vinegar. Finish with a sauce made from yogurt, red onion and the slightest pinch of fresh chilli pepper.
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro
Lungarno Acciaiuoli 80R, Florence
T / 055 290423