Lesso di manzo rifatto (“Re-made” Boiled Beef)

FrankCampania, Lazio, secondi piatti, Toscana15 Comments

Waste not, want not, they old saying goes. There are a myriad of old recipes in the Italian repertoire for making use of boiled beef leftover from beef broth, a brodo classico or a bollito misto. Of course, boiled beef can simply be gently reheated in its broth and served with salsa verde or salsa rossa, but there other, perhaps more imaginative ways to use it. Here are three examples:
Lesso rifatto con le cipolle

This may be my favorite way to use leftover boiled beef, and it has to be one of the simplest: you simply sweat thinly sliced onion in olive oil until it is softened. Season with salt and pepper as it sweats, and add a drop or two of water, if need be, to prevent it from browning. Then lay sliced leftover beef over the onions (slice it cold so it does not fall apart) and then pour in beef broth almost up to the top of the beef. If you have a sprig of sage or rosemary on hand, you can nestle it between the beef slices. Cover and simmer over gentle heat until the beef has been warmed up, then uncover and allow the broth to reduce until you have a nice, unctuous sauce. Do not stir or move the beef slices, or they may break up.) Serve either by itself or with mashed potatoes as a piatto unico, accompanied if you like with a green salad.

NB: This dish is often made in rosso, in the Tuscan tradition, with red onions, a bit of tomato or tomato paste and touch of peperoncino.

Lesso rifatto alla pizzaiola

This is a recipe that I ‘invented’—sort of. Fettine di manzo alla pizzaiola (beef slices ‘pizza-style’) is a well-known dish from Campania, but is made with slices of raw beef. In all honesty I don’t much like it when it’s made that way; the beef inevitably turns out rather dry. But made with slices of lesso, it is wonderful! Make a sugo di pomodoro with oil, garlic and tomato, then lay the beef slices in the sugo, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh or dry oregano. Simmer gently until the beef is nicely reheated and the sauce is well reduced and clings to the beef slices.

Lesso rifatto alla ciociara
Lesso rifatto alla ciociara
Lesso rifatto alla ciociara

This is a recipes I found on the internet, and liked very much. You sweat onions in olive oil (or lard) until quite soft, then add tomatoes (canned tomatoes are fine) and cubed waxy potatoes. Allow the tomatoes to reduce into a thick sauce, then add boiled beef cut up into pieces, then enough broth to almost cover the beef. Simmer gently until the broth is well reduced (the recipe says 40-50 minutes, but imho 15-20 is quite enough). Season with salt and pepper, then chopped parsley.


The word ciociara, by the way, means in the style of the Ciociaria, an area located in the southern part of Lazio, the region of Italy of which Rome is the capital. Whenever I hear the word, I always think of the wonderful neorealist film La Ciociara, directed by Vittorio DeSica. (The English title is Two Women.) The film takes place during World War II and portrays an infamous episode that occurred immediately after the battle of Monte Cassino, from the perspective of a so-called marocchinata, a victim of the mass rape committed by the Gourmiers, Moroccan colonial troops of the French Expeditionary Forces (CEF). The writer Alberto Moravia wrote a novel about the episode called La Ciociara, which de Sica made into the film. It starred in the title role Sophia Loren, who won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1960, at the tender age of 23. It was the first time in the history of the Academy Awards that the Best Actress award had been given for a non-English speaking role. The film made Loren an international star. If you have a chance, I heartily recommend it. The story, as you can well imagine, is not a happy one, but both the film and Loren’s performance is wonderfully moving.

Sophia Loren in La Ciociara

Post scriptum: By the way, just realized that this is the 100th post on Memorie di Angelina… I guess this blog is now officially grown up.

Post-post scriptum: In Rome, they make a particularly nice version of bollito rifatto that goes by the curious name of piacchiapò, about which I’ve just written a separate post. [January 2014]

15 Comments on “Lesso di manzo rifatto (“Re-made” Boiled Beef)”

  1. I recently found your blog and I love it, thank you for share your familiy's recipes. I love the italian food.
    Greetings from Costa Rica

  2. Well – congrats on:

    1 – your 100th post
    2- making finest foodies friday!

    This dish looks very warm and inviting – not to mention delicious!

  3. What I like best about your blog is that you always tell something interesting, either about food or about anything else. The movie is wonderful and I didn't know what the original title meant, now I do!

  4. Congratulations on your 100th post! These are very tempting recipes. I'm particularly drawn to the Lesso rifatto con le cipolle. The sauce sounds wonderful!

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