Picchiapò

Quick Note: Picchiapò

In secondi piatti by Frank23 Comments

We’re an old fashioned household in many ways. In the cooler months, making broth is a Sunday afternoon ritual in our house. And from broth comes boiled meat, an old fashioned treat that most people these days have never tasted. If it sounds to you like hospital food, think again.

Italian cookery has come up with lots of ways to enjoy boiled meats, the most iconic being the simple bollito or lesso, boiled meat typically served with green or red sauce. But a simple bollito is at its best when you’ve made the meat expressly for the purpose of eating it; the meat is simmered just until it is tender and served at its best flavor and texture. When making broth, on the other hand, you want to extract as much flavor as you can, leaving meat needing a little help. That’s where the bollito rifattoliterallyre-made boiled beef’—comes in. Italians have come up with various ways of ‘recycling’ boiled meat into incredibly tasty dishes. Bollito rifatto con le cipolle, boiled meat with onions, is probably the best known, but there a lots of others.

One typically Roman way to recycle boiled beef goes by the curious name of picchiapò, literally meaning “a little beat up”. (The origin of the name has been lost to time.) There are lots of variations on picchiapò, but the basic concept is to make a tomato sauce and let the cut up beef simmer, along with a bit of the broth you made with it, for a few minutes to reheat and absorb the flavor of the sauce. Like so much of Roman cookery, it’s simple and rustic—and perhaps not very pretty— but absolutely delicious. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • White wine
  • A few canned tomatoes, squeezed through your fingers
  • Optional: A bay leaf and/or a pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

In a braising pan, make a soffritto by sautéing the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a generous glug of olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add a splash of white wine and let it boil off, then add a few canned tomatoes, squeezed through your hands as you add them to the pot, along with a bay leaf and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like. Let the tomatoes simmer gently and reduce until you have a rather thick ‘sauce’.

Add the boiled beef, along with a ladleful of the broth you made from the it, to the pot, and mix once. Let the beef simmer in the sauce until it is reheated and has absorbed most of the sauce. Do not stir the pot again, or the beef will probably break up into mush. You can shake the pot if you think you need to, to prevent the beef from sticking.

Serve immediately.

Picchiapò

Notes

Exact measurements for making picchiapò are not all that important, so none are given. Some folks like a very red sauce with lots of tomato, I prefer just a bit, enough to add flavor and color but letting the beef stand out. And if you prefer a different kind of soffritto, say just with onion or with onion and garlic, then by all means feel free. And you can vary the taste by adding a sprig of rosemary or some other herb you fancy, if you like. This is obviously casual cookery.

Picchiapò goes particularly well with mashed potatoes or, if you don’t feel with a starchy vegetable, sautéed greens.

Quick Note: Picchiapò

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Quick Note: Picchiapò

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • White wine
  • A few canned tomatoes, squeezed through your fingers
  • A ladleful of homemade broth
  • Leftover boiled beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Optional: A bay leaf and/or a pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a braising pan, make a soffritto by sautéing the chopped onion, carrot and celery in a generous glug of olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add a splash of white wine and let it boil off, then add a few canned tomatoes, squeezed through your hands as you add them to the pot, along with a bay leaf and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like. Let the tomatoes simmer gently and reduce until you have a rather thick 'sauce'.
  2. Add the boiled beef, along with a ladleful of the broth you made from the it, to the pot, and mix once. Let the beef simmer in the sauce until it is reheated and has absorbed most of the sauce. Do not stir the pot again, or the beef will probably break up into mush. You can shake the pot if you think you need to, to prevent the beef from sticking.
  3. Serve immediately.
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FrankQuick Note: Picchiapò

Comments

  1. domenicacooks

    Great post, Frank. I am one of those people who loves meat and chicken that has had the heck boiled out of it. My mom sometimes made homemade mayonnaise to dress the chicken she saved after making brodo. Personally, I like it plain with a sprinkle of salt and good olive oil drizzled on top. Same with the beef (also the carrots and celery). But this sounds even better.

  2. Nuts about food

    We often make broth at home too, and even our little kids look forward to the boiled meat you get as a result. Then again bollito is a real art here in northern Italian regions. I have never tried picchiapò and never heard of it (I am always surprised how much I don’t know about regional cooking, even when I think I know pretty much!) but am excited to try it.

    1. Author
      Frank

      There’s nothing like a good bollito when the weather gets frosty, eh? Wonderful that your kids love it, too. Kids can be so fussy, but it just goes to show that if you expose them to different culinary experiences, they’ll be more open-minded. Anyway, do let us know what you think if you try piacchiapò for your next batch of leftover lesso….

  3. Hilde Hem

    This is so lovely, in Spain we call this ; comida de aprovechamiento, traditional foodies. And with lots of love, it must take it`s time.

  4. Chiara

    Qui da te trovo non solo ricette ma informazioni e ricordi di vita tanto interessanti, buon weekend Frank !

  5. Ciao Chow Linda

    I’d never heard of this dish, but what a good way to recycle meat used for brood. What about chicken? How do you deal with a chicken that you’ve used expressly for broth?

    1. Author
      Frank

      I’ve never tried to picchiapò boiled chicken, although I would imagine it would work well. Usually, I go completely different route and make a velouté enriched with cream and add the chicken to that and serve it over noodles or rice, or sometimes in a casserole à la Tetrazzini. And you?

  6. Susanna

    Brings back memories of my past.
    Mamma put some basil in the pan near the end of cooking.

  7. Susan

    When I make my sauce, I add short ribs, just for the meat when the sauce is done. It’s one if those rare things my husband expects from me and tells everyone about.

  8. Eha

    You have recalled a precious memory! My husband and I had taken our two young daughters to their first ever trip to Europe [from Down Under] . . . a huge amount of input at 6 and 8!! We were tired and decided to have the evening meal at the verandah restaurant at ‘Hotel de Paris’ in Monte Carlo – yup, the one cattycorner from the Casino. Methinks the kids had almost had, had, had all the ‘fancy’ menus by that time tho’ they were very adventurous. The head waiter sensed this and said ‘Won’t show you the menu. You all are having the ‘pot au feu’ What!!!!!! But when the trolleys with the meats and vegetables and later soup arrived at our table and my daughters were asked to get up and point what they wanted of ‘comfort food’ . . . oh boy, did we have a happy dinner with my little ones following the waiter and saying ‘could we have more tongue, could we have more of that lovely meat, could we have one more piece of marrow bone?’ Nor so far from the Roman ‘bollito’ and oft so happiness-making :) !

    1. Author
      Frank

      So glad I could bring back fond memories for you. Your description indeed sounds just like a Gran Bollito Misto that is one of the masterpieces of the cuisine of Piemonte—coincidentally just across the border from France…

      1. Eha

        :) ! I know!!! Actually thought I would hate the Riviera – came to love it ’cause it was that ‘continuation’ of Italy :) !

  9. Leonardo Ciampa

    What a wonderful idea! I just love Roman cuisine, in particular the things they do with beef. I notice that they often use WHITE wine in some of these dishes (including the beloved vaccinara).

    1. Author
      Frank

      Any kind of meat that would work for a stew or pot roast can be boiled successfully: short ribs, chuck, bottom round, etc. Check out my post on “Bollito and Other Boiled Dinners” for more details!

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