Insalata di Bollito
We were served an Insalata di Bollito as an antipasto on our second night at Casa Scaparone. It didn't look very appetising, but looks being deceiving at times, it turned out of course to be quite delicious.
The beef was tender, tasty and went really nicely with the sweet carrots. We tried to get the recipe out of the agriturismo but they were vague about it, mentioning something about onions and herbs.
But as I tasted the dish, it reminded me of a French Pot-au-Feu, only sweeter and more aromatic. That set me thinking of how this dish could be prepared and I am glad to announce that my hunch hadn't been wrong. My version of this Piedmontese Boiled Beef Salad (Insalata di Bollito) is similar if not better than the one served at the osteria.
Insalata di Bollito :
1 Kg Guanciale di Manzo (Beef cheeks)
1 Beef bone
1 small Red Onion pricked with 6-7 whole Cloves
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Celery stalk (sliced into 3-4 pieces)
2 Bay leaves
Fresh Rosemary, thyme and parsley
1/2 Tsp ground Black Pepper
1 litre hot Beef stock
3 Potatoes (halved)
A few Eggs (hard-boiled)
1 Zucchini (sliced into 3-4 pieces)
1 small Cabbage (quartered)
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Yellow or Napoleon Onion (sliced)
1/3 of a Leek (sliced)
2 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 Tsp Mustard seeds
Fresh Rosemary and Parsley
5 large Carrots (sliced length-wise into chunky sticks)
A good pinch of ground Cloves
1/3 Tsp ground Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp Red wine Vinegar
2 Ladles of the Beef Broth
Fresh Basil for garnishing
Start by preparing the bollito. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pot and brown the meat (kept in big pieces), onion and celery. Add the bone, pepper and the fresh herbs. Cover the meat with the hot beef stock (use hot water and a beef cube if you do not have home-made stock). When the liquid starts to boil, cover the pot and lower the heat. Simmer for 3 hours.
The cooked beef cheeks
Remove the meat from the stock and set aside, covered with aluminium foil so that it doesn't dry out.
Bring the stock to a boil again and cook the potatoes, eggs, cabbage and zucchini (in this order so that the zucchini doesn't overcook).
In a large non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions, leeks, garlic and mustard seeds till fragrant. Add the carrots and cook them till they are soft and slightly caramelised. Add the ground spices, fresh herbs, salt and pepper and stir well to mix them with the carrots. Lower the heat and cover the pan.
Check from time to time, the carrots and onions should caramelise but must not burn. Now pour in the red wine vinegar, mix well and cover the pan again.
When the carrots are ready, add the meat (I used my hands to shred it roughly) to the pan plus 2 ladles of the rich and aromatic meat stock. Mix everything well together and cover the pan again.
When the sauce is reduced, turn off the heat.
I served the Beef Salad French-style, accompanied by the vegetables and the eggs. The broth is served separately, usually before the meat.