As in the Po River Plain, cooking in the Veneto incorporates polenta and rice in their dishes along with wild fowl, mushrooms and seafood. Some traditional Veronese meals include gnocchi and polenta, with specialty products such as olive oil, asparagus, chestnuts, truffles, cheese and tortellini of Valeggio sul Mincio. The region is also known for some of Italy’s best-known red wines – Valpolicella and Bardolino. The whites include Soave, Gambellara, Bianco di Custoza and Vigne Alte. Try these delicious dishes, coupled with your favorite wine from the city for a taste of Veronese cuisine.
This dish is prepared with Amarone della Valpolicella, the prized red wine from the Valpolicella area within province of Verona. This distinguished, unusual wine is made from partially-dried grapes, giving it a rich, full-bodied character.
- 3 tbsp, plus 2 tsp butter
- 1 ½ cups Carnaroli rice
- 2 cups Amarone wine
- 3/4 cup Monte Veronese cheese, grated
- vegetable broth, as needed
- sea salt, finely ground, to taste
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 2 teaspoons of butter and toast the rice over a medium-low flame. In a separate, nonreactive saucepan, gently heat the Amarone wine and as soon as it reaches a bare simmer, add it to the rice. Continue cooking the rice, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the wine is absorbed, about 16 to 18 minutes. Add a bit of vegetable broth as needed, towards the end of cooking.
When the rice is cooked to an al dente consistency and the liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce, remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and the grated cheese. Stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately. Ideally paired with a glass of Amarone della Valpolicella wine.
Gran Bollito Misto feeds a large crowd. It includes seven different cuts (tagli) of beef or veal, seven ‘supporting’ cuts (frattaglie) and numerous sauces, plus an array of vegetable side dishes. A more modest version can be made at home for Sunday dinner or special occasions by cutting down the recipe according to the number of diners.
An assortment of main cuts (tagli)
- beef or veal brisket
- chuck roast, tied
- bottom round or rump roast
- short ribs
- beef ribs
- beef shank
An assortment of ‘supporting’ cuts (frattaglie)
- stewing hen
- beef hoof or veal trotter, cut into large pieces
- oxtail, cut into lengths
- a veal or ox tongue
- veal’s head, boned and tied
- a cotechino or zampone
Each pot should include the following aromatics
- 2 onions, studded with a clove
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
- a large pinch of salt and a few whole peppercorns
Fill a very large stockpot about halfway with water and add the aromatics and bring to a boil. Let the vegetables cook for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a pot big enough to handle the various cuts of meat you can use separate pots – some of the secondary meats, especially the tongue and the cotechino are usually cooked separately. Begin adding your meats with the longest it takes to cook. Here is a list summarizing approximate cooking times: 3 ½ – 4 hours : beef hoof, ox tongue; 3 to 3 ½ hours: brisket, chuck, bottom round, rump, shank, ribs and short ribs, oxtail; 2 to 2 ½ hours: veal tongue, hen, calf’s head, large cotechino/zampone, veal trotter; 1 to 1 ½ hours: chicken, small cotechino.
Start the water off at a brisk boil, but after that maintain a steady but gentle simmer, skimming off any grease that comes to the surface and topping the pot up with more water if too much cooks off. Once cooked, the meats can stay off the heat until you are ready to serve. If cooking tongue, you will need to remove it when it’s done and skin it. Then return the tongue to broth to re-heat before serving.
While the meats are simmering, prepare the sauces and sides. When you are ready to serve, lay out the meats on a large, pre-heated platter. Ladle over some of the broth to moisten the meats. Bring the platter to the table, along with the sauces and sides and slice the meats at the table for each of your guests.
Salsa verde (Green sauce): Take a big bunch of fresh parsley, stems removed, together with a few anchovy fillets, a handful of capers and two cloves of garlic. Using a food processor, blend together the ingredients with a splash of vinegar and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil until almost smooth. In Verona, a slice or two of bread with the crusts removed and soaked in vinegar is added to thicken the sauce.
Salsa rossa (Red sauce): A sweet and sour tomato sauce, which can be made like any basic tomato sauce to which you add a splash of vinegar and a big pinch of sugar. In some recipes, the sauce is spiked with red pepper. Whisk in some extra olive oil, off heat, once the sauce is done.
Pearà (Black Pepper Sauce): This delicious, but unusual sauce from the Verona, is made with bone marrow, finely minced and sautéed in butter to which you add a fistful of breadcrumbs. You sauté the breadcrumbs until they are well-impregnated with the marrow and butter and nicely toasted. Add some of the broth from the bollito pot, adding more ladlesful as the crumbs absorb the liquid, until you obtain a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt if it needs it.
Pastissada di Cavallo
In Veronese cooking, horse meat has been a popular dish for over 1500 years!
- 2 lb lean horse meat (topside or rump)
- 3 carrots
- 1 celery stalk
- 2 onions
- 1 laurel leaf
- 10 cloves
- 2 oz flour
- 3 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz butter
- 2-3 cups of beef stock
- 1 bottle of Valpolicella DOC wine
Cover the meat with wine to marinate for at least 24 hours (two days is even better) in a large terracotta bowl. Prior to cooking, chop the celery, onions and carrot. Heat the oil and half of the butter in a casserole over a medium flame. Add the celery, onions and carrots and cook until the onions begin to brown. Remove the meat from the bowl and drain it; insert the cloves, sprinkle with flour and place into the casserole dish. Cover and continue to cook over a low flame.
After one hour of cooking, add half of the marinating wine and the laurel leaf. Continue cooking on a moderate flame for about three hours. While cooking, add a few ladles of stock if necessary. When you have finished cooking, add salt to taste and freshly ground pepper. When cooked, the meat will be soft and easily broken apart. Remove the meat from the casserole and cut it delicately. Sift some of the vegetables, increasing sauce density with a little flour and the remaining butter. Cook until the desired consistency is reached. Serve the pieces of meat, hot, covered with the sauce. The dish is often accompanied by polenta and a wine from the region, such as Classic Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso or Amarone Valpolicella.