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Tuscan Meats

Tuscany's best known meat dish is certainly the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a glorious portherhouse steak. But there are many other tasty Tuscan meat recipes as well.

Alessio Pesucci's Peposo - A Tuscan Answer to Chili
Peposo is a rich peppery stew traditionally made by the tileworkers of Impruneta, near Florence. There are two recipes, one with tomato and one without. Alessio Pesucci makes his without, and it is very nice, an excellent Tuscan answer to Chili.

Beef Meatloaf -- Polpettone di Manzo
Though you might not consider meatloaf Italian, this is a classic Florentine dish.

Cibreo Dell'Oltrarno - A Simpler, More Frugal Cibreo Recipe
Cibreo is an old, old Florentine stew made with the less noble parts of the chicken, in particular chicken livers and such. In the hands of a good cook these ingredients can do terrific things, and Cibreo is said to have been a favorite dish of Caterina de'Medici.

Chicken Under a Brick: Pollo al Mattone
An old, possibly even Etruscan way of grilling a chicken.

Chicken and Porcini Mushroom Recipe - Pollo e Porcini
Chicken and mushrooms are a very successful combination. Here we have tomatoes, which make (I think) for an earthier dish. The recipe calls for porcini, but any good quality flavorful wild mushroom will work.

Cinghiale fra Due Fuochi
Wild boar (or other game) marinated and stewed with the marinade, will work beautifully with polenta.

Duck with Olive Leaves -- Anatra Muta alle Foglie d'Olivo
This is an old recipe from Versilia, the coastal Tuscan plain north of the Arno River. It calls for sprigs of olive leaves, which will add a pleasant touch but aren't an absolute requirement.

Fagioli all'Uccelletto with Sausages
Tomatoey garlicky beans and sausages are an inspired combination.

Florentine Style Steak -- Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Many in the English-speaking world would call this a Porterhouse and wonder what the fuss is about. And they'd be right in most cases; though fiorentine are featured prominently on the menus of almost all the restaurants in Florence, finding a good one isn't at all easy. But when you do it's heaven on earth, delightfully rich, flavorful rare meat so tender it can be cut with a spoon. Much of the secret is the breed of cattle, Chianina beef...

Florentine-Style Meatloaf Made from Fresh Meat
Here's a recipe from Artusi that didn't make it into my translation of his book for want of space. The raw meat he calls for is as opposed to leftover roasted or boiled meat; in the days before refrigeration (he was writing in 1890) it was common practice to grind up leftover meat and make meatballs or meatloaf with it before it spoiled. This, made with raw meat, is a little more elegant, and could have been served to a family friend as well -- in other words, a guest one didn't need to impress.

Garnished Meatballs -- Polpette Giuarnite
A Sienese recipe, this is true home cooking of the sort one would enjoy in a family meal, but probably wouldn't serve dinner guests unless they were also close friends. It's also a tasty way of dealing with boiled meat, one of the byproducts of making broth.

Graziella's Stuffed Rabbit
The arrival at the coast was occasion for wonderment of many kinds -- the joy of diving into bracingly cool water, and also of enjoying boned stuffed rabbit afterwards. This is my mother-in-law's recipe, which will also work well with boned chicken, and (we think) with turkey breast. In summer it's excellent served cool, whereas it's nice hot when it's cold outside. To serve 4-6, you'll need:

Grilled Pancetta -- Pancetta alla Griglia
Pancetta alla Griglia, or Grilled Pancetta: On an episode of La Vecchia Fattoria, one of RAI TV's cooking & gardening shows, Dario Cecchini, a butcher who express mails steaks all over the world from his shop in Panzano in Chianti (20 miles from Florence), showed how to grill fresh pancetta (pork fat back, available from a well stocked butcher or an oriental market). It looked quite good!

Impruneta's Peposo: An Illustrated Recipe
Peposo is Impruneta's signature stew, a zesty creation that can easily match any chili out there. And it's easy to make, too!

Jailhouse Meat: Carne da Galera
Pork shoulder butt stewed with herbs and vineagr: A classic dish from the days before refrigeration, and very tasty now too.

Lamb with Black Olives -- Agnello con le Olive Nere
Agnello con le Olive Nere -- -- Lamb with Black Olives

Leonardo Romanelli's Braciole Fritte alla Fiorentina
Florence's braciole fritte are thin slices of beef, breaded, fried, and recooked in tomato sauce: this is a traditional family dish, one prepared to satisfy the hunger of those at the table, and the sauce is just as important as the meat, as it gives the diners something to dip their bread into.

Leonardo Romanelli's Braciole Fritte alla Fiorentina, Illustrated
Florence's braciole fritte are thin slices of beef, breaded, fried, and recooked in tomato sauce: this is a traditional family dish, one prepared to satisfy the hunger of those at the table, and the sauce is just as important as the meat, as it gives the diners something to dip their bread into.

Marinated Hare Prepared Following the Method of the Hunters of Cardoso
Cardoso is a town in the overlooking Versilia, the Tuscan coastal plain north of Pisa. The recipe calls for hare, but will also work well with other furred game that requires marinating to draw out the gaminess, for example wild boar, or venison.

Ossibuchi al Sugo, or: Stewed Veal Shanks with Meat Sauce
The best known Italian recipe for Ossibuchi, veal shanks, is probably ossibuchi alla milanese, which are slowly cooked, and then seasoned with a heady mixture of chopped herbs just before going to the table. One can do other things with shanks as well. Stew them with ground beef, for example, and this recipe yields an extraordinarily satiny pasta sauce, and a superb main course as well. Winter comfort food of the highest order.

Peposo is a specialty of Impruneta, a town near Florence that's famous for its terracottas. The stew is a fiery exception to the rule that Tuscan cooking is bland, and is also one of the few dishes to have provoked a general strike. According to legend, Brunelleschi tried some while he was scouting tilemakers for the roof of the Duomo. He loved it...

Pigeons Florentine Style -- Piccioni alla Fiorentina
Pigeons Florentine Style, or Piccioni alla Fiorentina: Whenever I've encountered these they've been simply piccioni allo spiedo, spit-roasted pigeons. Perhaps because I live in Tuscany. In any case, the technique will work with any small birds, and is delicious.

Polenta Col Sugo di Coniglio
Polenta with stewed rabbit, an extremely tasty one-course meal.

Pork Loin Cooked in Milk -- Arista al Latte
Arista is the Tuscan name for pork roast, and is also applied to the cut of meat used to make pork roast, the loin with ribs attached. According to Artusi it derives from an ecumenical council held in Florence in 1430 to attempt to settle the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, during which the Florentines served their guests roast pork loin seasoned with rosemary, salt, and pepper. The Greeks all began to exclaim, "Arista, arista! (good, good!)" and the name stuck.

Pork Spare Ribs -- Rosticciana
Pork Spare Ribs, or Rosticciana: It's hard to imagine a Tuscan arrosto misto (mixed roast meats, done over the coals) without these. The fire should be hot enough to cook them, but not so hot they burn at the outset. And they do require patience, but it's well worth it.

Rabbit with Pine Nuts & Black Olives -- Coniglio con Pinoli e Olive Nere
Rabbit with Pine Nuts & Black Olives, or Coniglio con Pinoli e Olive Nere: Anna Maria posted this a couple of years ago on It.Hobby Cucina, the Italian equivalent of the Rec.Foods.Cooking newsgroup; she notes it's from her home town of Groppo di Treseana in Lunigiana (Tuscany's province of Massa, inland) and that it was a Sunday dish her grandmother used to make when she was little.

Roast Pork & Pork-Roasted Duck: Porchetta & Anatra in Porchetta
Porchetta is a roast pig, an ideal picnic food and also quite good as part of a festive, though not tremendously elegant, meal. Larger pigs, roasted the same way, are sliced to stuff sandwiches in fairs. And also, a roast duck for smaller groups.

Roast Suckling Pig -- Maialino allo Spiedo
Roast Suckling Pig, or Maialino allo Spiedo: Every region of Italy has a recipe for suckling pig. This particular variation is done over the coals; it's Tuscan, and is perfect for a festive occasion. The recipe is hazy on the cooking time, because it will depend upon the fire, the fireplace, and the pig.

Scottiglia, as Aldo Santini observes in "La Cucina Maremmana," is the charcoal-makers' answer to Livorno's cacciucco: A stew made from whatever animals they could catch, boiled in a great pot with whatever seasonings they had on hand. This means that no two cook's scottiglias are the same, and also that batches made by an individual cook can vary considerably.

Scottiglia Aretina: Arezzo's Scottiglia
Though scottiglia is generally associated with the Maremma, the wild scrub hills of South Western Tuscany between Siena and Grosseto, it's not limited to that area, and it would perhaps be more correct to consider it an outdoorsy dish of the sort that woodsmen and charcoal burners can make with what they have on hand. Poor people's food, in short, but not less tasty for that.

Simone's Bollito Misto
Simone Ciattini of the Trattoria la Baracchina takes an innovative approach to Bollito Misto that will be more practical for a home cook than might be the cartload of mixed boiled meats one finds in many restaurants.

Stewed Boar -- Cinghiale in Umido
Stewed Boar, or Cinghiale in Umido: Tuscany is crawling with boar, and the Apuans are no exception; this recipe is from the mountains overlooking the coastal plain to the west of Lucca. You'll need well aged meat to do it justice; either ask your butcher to age it for you, or keep the meat in your refrigerator, covered, for several days after you get it home.

Stewed Rabbit -- Coniglio in Umido
Stewed Rabbit, or Coniglio in Umido: Versilia, being a coastal plain, has lots of fish recipes. However, as is true for almost anywhere else in Italy, it's full of rabbit hutches -- they're easy to raise, prolific, and their meat is both lean and tasty.

Stewed Ossibuchi: Ossibuchi al Sugo
Simple, but oh so tasty veal shanks in meat sauce (this also yields excellent pasta sauce)

Stuffed Boned Rabbit -- Coniglio Disossato Ripieno
Stuffed Boned Rabbit, or Coniglio Disossato Ripieno: Stuffed rabbit is a classic for Sunday dinner. This particular recipe is a little more complex than some, and comes from Versilia, the Tuscan coastal plain north of the mouth of the Arno River.

Stuffed Goose Neck: Collo di Locio Ripieno
Stuffed goose (or chicken) neck, a festive dish from the Tuscan farmlands.

The Wine-Maker's Veal Cutlets -- Braciole del Vinaio
The Wine-Maker's Veal Cutlets, or Braciole del Vinaio: This Tuscan recipe is simpler than the ingredient list might make you think, and will be quite refreshing on a crisp fall day.

Tuscan Porchetta Recipe - Porchetta Toscana
A porchetta is a whole pig, roasted, and is one of the most common street foods in Central Italy; just about every fair or gathering will have a Prochettaro who does a brisk business selling sandwiches, and also packets of sliced porchetta to people who want to take some home. There are two major traditions, one more Tuscan, and the other from the regions of Lazio, Umbria, and the Abruzzo Marche region. This recipe is Tuscan.

Vittorio's Grilled Chicken
Perfect barbacued chicken.

Artusi's Cibreo Recipe, and a Little More - Cibreo & Testicles
Cibreo is an old, old dish, made from cock's combs and the parts of the chicken that don't get used elsewhere, delicately stewed, and though a person born into the modern times of plenty might recoil at the idea, the dish is amazingly refined, and in the past was eagerly sought out by even the wealthiest.

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