Remember when Domenico came home last week from Tuscany with all sorts of meat? One of the butcher paper-wrapped parcels he brought me contained the makings for bollito. Since I had put a limit on the quantity that he could buy (he sometimes forgets we are just the two of us these days) he showed unusual restraint, and only got two cuts of meat for bollito, instead of the usual mix including tongue, a half a hen and maybe a piece of turkey.
When I unwrapped my meaty gift I found the two pieces of beef: a large piece of fatty muscolo, as well a slice of a leaner cut. And then there was the half of a hoof. “The butcher said it’s absolutely necessary to make the broth rich,” was Domenico’s
So I made bollito (sorry, this isn’t a bollito recipe post) and yes, the broth was amazing. Mostly due to that hoof. Dinner was the delicious brodo, followed by sliced boiled beef served with freshly made, garlicky, salsa verde.
The precious leftover stock went in the freezer. But the leftover beef? It became dinner the following night in the form of picchiapò.
Picchiapò was something that I’d been seeing recently in restaurants in Rome. It’s one of those old fashioned Roman dishes - like minestra di arzilla - that make something delicious out of inexpensive ingredients. Like minestra di arzilla, picchiapò had sort of fallen off the radar, until it became fashionable again to turn back the clock to cucina povera. Picchiapò takes leftover boiled beef, and stretches it into another meal with the addition of tomatoes and onions. Kind of like ‘boiled beef helper”.
If you think the name picchiapò sounds strange, it does. No one is quite sure how this dish got its name. But it is certainly fun to say. (pee-ke-ya-po) Not to mention good to eat.
1 pound / 1/2 kilo of boiled beef*
1 large white onion
2 stalks of celery
2 cups pelati canned tomatoes
salt and pepper
Pull the boiled beef into bit size pieces
Cut the onion in half, and slice it into thin rings.
Slice the celery into diagonal 1/4 inch slices.
Heat the oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add oil and raise to medium heat. Add onions and celery, stir, and let cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. You want it to soften, but not brown. Add tomatoes, raise heat a bit, and let cook another 10 minutes. Add beef, stir, and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes, or else a loaf of crusty bread to sop up all the juices.
*I realize that leftover boiled beef isn't something that a lot of people have to deal with. Although traditional picchiapò calls for boiled beef, I'm thinking that this recipe would work for any kind of leftover meat you may have. Yes, even that turkey that you stuck in the freezer last November.