Bollito Misto

Bollito Misto 150 150 David Rosengarten


It’s back to Emilia-Romagna again!–one of my most magical visits of 2013. I LOVE their local specialty Bollito Misto…a massive “boil” of “mixed” ingredients, mostly hearty meats. It goes the French Pot au Feu one better! Now, if you had a restaurant kitchen, you might have a stockpot large enough to accommodate the entire bollito misto that follows. But most home cooks have nothing of the sort–so, for their benefit, and mine, I’ve divided the dish among three large pots, all of which finish cooking at the same time. I love the particular combo of meats and vegetables in this recipe, but please remember that any improvisational substitutions you wish to make will work out perfectly–as long as you remember “Italy”…and…”winter.” The classic bollito misto accompaniments follow the main recipe. If you want to be really authentic, find some “mostarda di Cremona” to go with it as well–mustardy pickled fruits (available in jars) from nearby Cremona.

6 quarts chicken broth
3 quarts water
3 medium white onions, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
6 bay leaves
2 ribs celery, cut in half cross wise
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half crosswise (plus 8 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks about 1 1/2″ long)
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
a 1-lb. scrap of prosciutto, cut in 2 pieces (see Cook’s Note 1)
3 pounds beef brisket, cut into two equal pieces
2 fresh veal tongues, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
a 3-lb. veal shoulder roast, cut into two equal pieces, each one tied
3 chickens, about 2 1/2 pounds each
24 very small potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut in half
24 very small turnips, peeled
6 medium red onions, peeled, cut lengthwise into quarters, stem attached
3 pounds pre-cooked garlicky pork sausage, like cotechino, or kielbasa, cut into two equal pieces (or Alps uncooked cotechini, or zampone; see Cook’s Note 2)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
aged balsamic vinegar for the table

1. Place 2 quarts of the chicken broth and 1 quart of the water into a large pot. Place another 2 quarts of the chicken broth, and another quart of the water into another large pot. Add 2 of the white onion halves to each pot and add two of the bay leaves to each pot.. Divide the celery, carrots, garlic and prosciutto between the pots, and bring both to a simmer over medium-high heat. While the broths are coming to a simmer, rub the brisket generously with kosher salt. Once the pots are simmering, divide the brisket between the pots and slowly return to a bare simmer. Reduce the heat slightly and cover the pots, checking within a few minutes—and again throughout the entire cooking process— to ensure that the broths are at the laziest possible simmer.

2. Meanwhile, place the veal tongues, the 2 remaining onion halves, the 2 remaining bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt in a separate pot with water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the tongues immersed until cool enough to handle. When they are, peel the membranes from each tongue and return tongues to the liquid until needed.

3. After the brisket has simmered for 3 hours, generously rub the veal shoulder pieces with kosher salt and, after five minutes, add them to the brisket pots, one piece per pot. Cover and return to a lazy simmer for 1 hour. Add a veal tongue to each pot and continue to simmer, covered, for another hour—a total of 5 hours so far.

4. After the meats have cooked for 5 hours, salt the chickens generously, inside and out. Bring the remaining 2 quarts chicken broth and 1 quart of water to a simmer in another large stockpot and add the chickens, breast side up. Cover and gently simmer for 25 minutes.

5. To the chicken pot, add the remaining 8 carrots, the baby potatoes, the turnips and the red onions. Divide the sausage between the pots of beef and veal. Cover all three pots, and continue simmering until the chicken is cooked, the vegetables are tender and the cotechino is warmed through, about 25-30 minutes more.

6. To serve, slice the brisket–against the grain–1/2” thick. Cut the veal shoulder 1/2” thick. Cut the tongue and cotechino on the bias 3/8” thick, and each chicken into 8 pieces. Place the meats, each separate from the other, on a warmed serving platter. Lay the vegetables attractively in and around the meats. Strain the broth from the pots that held the brisket (reserve the broth that held the chickens for anther use), and moisten the meats and vegetables with a few ladles of broth. Sprinkle the vegetables with parsley. Prepare a cup of brisket broth for each guest, and serve. Serve bollito misto with salsa verde, salsa rossa, apple mostarda (recipes follow) and aged balsamic vinegar.

Cook’s Note 1: When a deli gets to the end of a prosciutto, they usually discard the hard, un-fatty pieces of remaining ham. With any skill, you can easily talk the deli man into discarding them into your shopping bag instead. Even paying a small per-pound price is a good strategy for procuring this wonderful flavor enhancer. I would not, however, recommend paying $24 a pound for a prosciutto end.

Cook’s Note 2: If you’re using my favorite cotechino–the Cotechini Sausage from The Alps Provision Co.–because it is uncooked, you will have to immerse it in the broth for a longer time than the other sausages. Buy two cotechini sausages and, one hour before serving the bollito misto, place each one in one of the beef and veal pots; they will take one hour to cook. Cut them into thick slices for a taste of northern Italian heaven. If you want to use the great zampone from Salumeria Biellese in New York, you will also need to simmer it for about an hour. Cut off two chunks that are about 1 1/2 lbs. each, and immerse each one in one of the beef and veal pots an hour before serving the bollito misto. Reserve left-over zampone for future use.

Salsa Verde

2 lightly packed flat parsley leaves
1/2 lightly packed cup mint leaves
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons capers, finely chopped
3 hard-boiled egg yolks, mashed
1 large garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
generous pinch cayenne
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the mixture to chop, pausing to scrape down the sides. With the motor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream until a fluid, slightly thickened sauce forms and the ingredients are finely chopped. Process with additional oil as needed. Season to taste.

Salsa Rossa

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
tomatoes from a 28-ounce can of tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
generous pinch cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil until just beginning to smoke. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft and pale golden at the edges, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute more. Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the skillet along with the salt and cayenne. Gently simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until well thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to the bowl of a blender and add the cinnamon and vinegar. Purée the mixture until smooth, adjusting the seasoning with additional salt, cinnamon and vinegar to taste.

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