Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eat Boiled Meats

Passover Bollito Misto Sauces

The other night, we ate leftover bollito misto. I counted five sauces: herbal salsa verde, tomato-based (canned) salsa rossa, creamy horseradish, intriguing honey-walnut and using the cranberries that we've carried all winter, cranberry mostarda. Five sauces for four meats: veal shoulder, beef shank, brisket and capon. How did we go wrong. I wanted symmetry. How did we screw up I asked my wife. The merguez, I had forgot to count the merguez. We did have five meats. Happiness reigns in the Bungalow.

As I noted the other day, 1/2 the reason to eat bollito misto is for the sauces. Boiled meat, especially good local meat, is tender, rich, but yes, not exactly zooming with flavor. Bland. A vehicle. An excuse. To counter the plainness of boiled meat, bollito gets served with flavor-forward sauces, the sting of fresh horseradish, the cloy of honey, the salty jolt of anchovy mixed with herbs and the exotic, Renaissance taste of the salsa rossa.

Salsa Verde

This is a standard in the Bungalow. Bollito misto was not the only meal centered around this sauce. It's probably easiest to make this in a blender or food processor (Robot Coupe as they said about five times on Top Chef last night), but I like to make it in a mezzaluna. I enjoy the workout, and I think the texture, rough, inexact, is more pleasing.

Roughly chop a good amount of fresh herbs on hand; traditionally the dominant herb is parsley. Mint, oregano, basil, rosemary, chervil and tarragon are all good additions (I used the first four).

Garlic, three cloves. Finely minced. I start the garlic on a cutting board but then add to the mezzaluna board, so that I'm chopping the garlic as I continue to chop the herbs.

Dried local hot pepper. Minced. Just in the mezzaluna. The later liquid elements will hydrate the pepper a bit.

A good dollop of Dijon mustard. Not all salsa verde recipes include mustard, but I find it adds needed binding as well as complexity. The mustard goes into the eventual serving bowl with the ingredients from the mezzaluna board.

Salty elements, anchovies, cornichons, dill pickles, etc.; I used one salt-packed anchovy. Finely minced. I do this on a separate cutting board to keep things less smelly, then add to the serving bowl.

A splash of red wine vinegar.

Olive oil, extra virgin but not one of our fancier ones until I get the right consistency. The herbs should just float in the oil.

Horseradish Sauce

Equal parts sour cream, red wine vinegar, olive oil. Minced fresh horseradish to desired nasal-clearing.

Salsa Rossa

Adapted from David Rosengarten Entertains

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 large carrot, scrubbed and diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

Good glop of tomato paste, more than a tablespoon

1 28 ounce can of tomatoes, drained

Cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, enough for an exotic, Oriental flavor + salt and pepper

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

At medium or lower, heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the onions, celery and carrots, cook for a few minutes until getting soft. Do not crisp. Add the garlic and cook a bit more. Add the tomato paste, cook for one more minute. Then, add the canned tomatoes, squishing them between your fingers as they go in. Add the spices. Cook over low heat until the stuff thickens. Let cool and puree in blender or food mill. Add the vinegar. Adjust the seasoning.

Honey Sauce

Adapted from Kyle Phillips

Handful of black walnuts, crushed

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup cooking stock

Cranberry Mostarda

Adapted from Mario Batali

2 cups granulated sugar

1 pound cranberries

5 tablespoons Colman’s dry mustard

1 teaspoon mustard oil (available at specialty stores)

2 tablespoons black mustard seeds

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries and cook over until the cranberries are just beginning to burst.

In a bowl, make a paste from the other ingredients and some water. Stir this mixture in to the berries and cook over high heat until the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

All the ingredients were local except for the canned tomatoes, the tomato paste, the spices, the olive/mustard oils, the vinegar, the sugar, and have-to-admit, the parsley.

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