Liguria is the third smallest region in Italy, but the Riviera still has two sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The people in Liguria like to give green beans a savoury, umami kick with anchovies.
60 years ago, the Piaggio Vespa scooter transformed personal transportation and Italian lifestyle, and it’s still abuzz.
This recipe for stuffed breast of veal supposed to derive from Liguria, but I have left out the offal to make it less traditional but more mainstream.
Originally this recipe is supposed to derive from Liguria, where they have a pendant for brains, sweetbread and other exotic ingredients, if you are a stranger to offals. For this reason, and because I always seem to end up with much more stuffing than the meat pocket may possibly contain, I have weeded out about half the official ingredients, and still most people tend to like it.
I also replace the cut with a leaner kind of meat like rump or round steak, if the breast looks too fat, but this is a matter of taste, as some (mainly men) might find the dish too “dry”. Both ways it should be praised for looks. And it can be prepared well in advance.
Ca 1 kg veal steak without bones (breast, round or rump)
2 tbsp dried mixed mushrooms
1 clove of garlic
1 moderately thick slice of pancetta, prosciutto crudo (cured ham) or Italian sausage
2 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp dried bread crumbs
Fresh parsley and marjoram
Vegetables for the broth eg. onion, leek, carrot, celery, herbs
Soak the dried mushrooms for a couple of hours. Save the water for broth.
If you have not asked the butcher to cut a pocket in the meat, you do it yourself by making a horizontal incision into the middle of the steak with a sharp knife. The pocket should be as deep as possible.
Chop carrot, mushrooms, garlic, herbs and pancetta finely. (Bacon can be used as a pancetta substitute, though I find the taste too smoky)
Mix bread crumbs and parmesan with pine nuts, salt, pepper and all the finely chopped ingredients.
Stir in the beaten egg:
Fill the stuffing in the pocket in the meat and sew up the opening or tie it up with kitchen string.
Bring 2 litres of lightly salted water to the boil. Add whole onion, leek, carrot, bay leaf, herbs, pepper corn, soaking water from the mushrooms, etc. to make a broth.
Immense the stuffed veal in the broth and let it simmer gently for an hour and a half, or until tender.
Leave the meat in the broth to cool, before carving it in thin slices.
Run the broth through a sieve and use it to make risotto or soup for primi piatti.
Other delicious recipes like stuffed breast of veal
I don’t think, I have ever encountered a population more obsessed with cleanliness than the Italians. Supermarket shelves and the cupboard below kitchen sinks in private homes boom with soap, soda, washing powder, cleaning agents and detergent for all intends and purposes. Magic concoctions that eat chalk, degrease cooking tiles, shine wooden, laminated or glass surfaces, remove damp spots or polish floors indoors and outdoors. As far as cleaning is concerned, Italians believe in efficiency, and to be efficient household products should be dedicated to one job only. Using universal mixtures that promise to clean everything indiscriminately is substandard and socially unacceptable.
Take a deep breath when you pass through a narrow street of old houses and inhale scent of artificial pine, lemon, lavender and eucalyptus characterizing the various detergents. And watch out for all the house-proud ladies who scrub the pavement outside their front door on a daily basis, before they empty their soapy water bucket in your shoes. Modern Italians like to keep the path clean.
With these experiences in mind, I was greatly surprised to read Charles Dickens description of the women of Genova in 1844.
According to Dickens’ ‘Pictures from Italy’, Italian women were “… very good-tempered, obliging, and industrious. Industry has not made them clean, for their habitations are extremely filthy, and their usual occupation on a fine Sunday morning, is to sit at their doors, hunting in each other’s heads. But their dwellings are so close and confined that if those parts of the city had been beaten down by Massena in the time of the terrible Blockade, it would have at least occasioned one public benefit among many misfortunes.”
It seems Italian cleanliness is not genetically or culturally defined after all, but a result of ordinary European progress, prosperity and increased focus on personal hygiene.