Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bollito Misto and Potato Gnocchi

When we came back from sightseeing Saturday evening, we found the meats already boiling in a pressure cooker, Claudio already mezzaluna-ing his salsa verde (which in Turin is called "bagnetta verde"-little green bath) and Annalisa elbow deep in potato gnocchi dough.

Here's a quick summary of Claudio's Bagnetta verde:

hard-boiled egg
olive oil

Claudio didn't specify quantities here but did say he added very little garlic so the sauce would be smoother, less punchy. He used the mezzaluna on the first 5 ingredients until he got the paste-like consistency you see here. He then added the last 4 ingredients to taste. The result looked everything like pesto sauce in color and consistency, if that gives you an idea, but tasted very different.
Get a load of this piece of meat! I swear to you it was at least 2 feet wide and 1-1/2 feet tall! Exactly what cuts went into the actual bollito, I'm not sure, except to say veal tongue was one element. All I can say was that ecerything was so tender, when Claudio tried to slice the meat, it fell apart before his knife could cut through anything. Here's a list of meats that would go well in a bollito: beef brisket, chuck, veal rump, stewing hen, cotechino sausage, or any other long boiling-braising meat you know of. The total cooking time is about 4 hours for beef or pork and about 2 for chicken or veal. Italians I know seem not to be interested in the broth that results from boiling these meats along with aromatic vegetables. So unlike with the Spanish "cocido" there is no first course of soup.

What we did have was potato gnocchi with a melted cheese sauce. I learned a couple things while helping Annalisa mane these gnocchi. In a previous recipe, I explained that to get the gnocchi to hold on to as much sauce as possible, you had to draw the tines of a fork across each gnocco. I had done this be putting the piece of dough on the table and pulling a fork across the top of it, thus making a rather flat oval shape with ridges on one side. Annalisa explained to me that gnocchi need not only the fork ridges but also an indentation on the other side made by your thumb. Here's how it works: Put a fork on the table and place a piece of dough on it. With your thumb, press into the dough and roll it down the fork tines. It will roll off the fork and be indented on one side and ridged on the other.

To top off this very satisfying meal, a guest brought Floating Islands (Oeufs a la Neige)! These are whipped egg whites poached in milk and then served with (in this case) a caramel creme anglaise. I have been wanting to make this ever since seeing Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery. The characters in the film made such a big deal of it that I figured Floating Islands were the most sophisticated dessert ever. In Italian they're called something like "peti di signora" (lady's farts) and so the guest who brought these didn't really think they were all that special. They were really tasty, though!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meat and food looks great! I have never made Gnocchi at home,got to try one of these days:)

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great culinary adventure!

maybe the sauce on that gnocchi is what h meant by "tater sauce" in his story.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Tracie B. said...

lady's farts sounds way better than big hairy man's farts

1:23 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Asha, Gnocchi are a lot easier than I used to think.

Hi Melissa, So now we know "tater sauce" is melted cheese!

Hi Tracie, Can you imagine a dessert called "big hairy man's farts"? Wow!

3:55 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

holy cats, that looks like a whole round roast or some such. Did you get any of the marrow?

If Italians don't use the cooking broth as a soup base, what do they do with it? Please don't say "toss it," or you'll make me cry...

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting name...."Lady Farts." I'm glad they were good! :)

5:22 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Scott, According to my friend Simone, there are 2 ways to boil meat: One is for stock, where you begin with cold water and meat then bring it to a boil (that's where you toss the meat). The other is for meat where you boil the water first then add the meat (then you toss the stock) I made this once, myself and served it to Italians who seemed happy enough to drink the broth but then I heard about the above theory. My guess is the broth is not optimum, but still, I'd have a hard time throwing it away.

Hi Beenzzz, There's another dessert from France called "pets de nonne" (Nun's farts)! They're deep-fried choux pastry with apricot sauce.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

Simone's theory certainly has merit. You can't get both great meat and great broth. But if you cook it for the meat, you could still reduce the broth, throw in some barley or rice and mushrooms, and have a pretty good soup.

2:22 AM  
Blogger a.c.t said...

It's been ages since I've had homemade gnocchi, I used to make them with my Mum. Now I'm ashamed to say that I quite often buy then already made. I still like them but they're just not the same.

11:42 AM  

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