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Bollito misto or "mixed boiled meat" is one of the most superb and opulent examples of traditional Italian cooking.
The second course that's designed for devout carnivores, is usually served in portion sizes anwhere between "large" and "enormous." The most famous is the Piedmontese version, but (thankfully) the traditional carts of "bollito misto" are wheeled amongst diners throughout a multitude of restaurants in northern Italy. Expecially with the onset of autumn and winter.
In Milan, restaurant Al'Less is just one place where bollito misto is still served in its mixed version with hen and cotechino. Here are their timeless tips on how to prepare the perfect bollito misto:
1. It's all about the Meat
To say it might seem too obvious, but: choose meat of the highest possible quality, from trusted farms. To cook the meat at its best, don't hurry, but wait patiently and cook at a low temperature for at least four hours. Before cooking, the meat should not be degreased, or it will lose consistency and taste.
2. It's all about the Numbers
The classic "bollito misto" is a dish of seven parts: five cuts of beef (tongue, head, muscle, cheek and capello del prete (top of the head)) to which are the cotechino and hen are added. The beef parts must be cooked together, with the exception of tongue and head.
3. The Importance of the Stock
... No salt, spices or aromas: the secret to the perfect broth is only using carrots, onions and celery, and be careful to froth. When the meat boils, in fact, it produces a foam on the surface that must be removed with a ladle - and patience.
4. ... The Extras
Here, there are many schools of thought on what should be served with a bollito misto. Salsa verde (a rustic acidic style sauce served cold, and made with parsley, vinegar, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, olive oil) is a must. And then there are mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables and - for the most daring - spicy mostarda.
5. Flavour gets Better with Age
The (indicative) storage time is 3-4 days. You will understand that it is no longer good when when the consistency is sticky to the touch. If you no longer want to eat the meat in its original boiled form, try using the meat (tongue excluded) to prepare the mondeghili, typical Milanese meatballs.
Now it's time to put those tips into practice by making your own- here's a simple bollito misto recipe to try.