Piemontese Resourcefulness in Cooking: Bollito Misto
If you had to describe the Piemontese people with only one word, it would be resourceful. The people of this region are hard workers, and even sometimes considered the quiet ones or the “party poopers” of Italy. But, it’s all in the name of being practical, determined, and resilient!
A classic example of how practical the people of Piemonte are can be found in their famous bollito. Let’s learn more about this classic Piemontese recipe and learn how to summon a little bit of that clever Piemontese spirit in ourselves!
What is Bollito?
Bollito misto is a heartwarming winter comfort food at its best. It is a simple North Italian dish made of boiled meats, served with a spread of dipping sauces and bagnas.
Traditionally, bollito was a farmer’s dish that was made as a way to make the most of meats that were, well…less than fresh. Meats that wouldn’t store well through the winter were collected and added to a bubbling pot that would warm the home.
Thankfully, these days we are lucky enough to use fresh meats to make our bollito! But this recipe’s history does showcase the resourceful nature of those clever Piemontese.
Making – and Eating! – Bollito
To make bollito, we’ll slow cook several different types of meat including chicken, beef, pork, and even cured meats and sausages like cotechino. It’s a true meat-lovers’ delight! In traditional bollitos, you might find meats as varied as tongue, beef head, and even horse…but we’ll keep things simple for ours!
After hours of delicate stewing, the meats are tenderly poached and packed full of flavor, and you’re left with a flavorful broth to make your next risotto or winter soup. (Healthy tip: if you use meat with bones in your bollito, this broth will be packed with collagen to support your joints through the winter!)
Now, bollito isn’t quite bollito without a few different bagnas, or dipping sauces. The Piemontese dialect word “bagna” is connected to the word for “bathe” in Italian. And, let me tell you, bagna is so delicious you’ll understand exactly why you’d want to bathe your bollito in these sauces!
So what’s in bagna? Bagnas are made with a variety of different ingredients, our classic Bagna Rossa is a delicious blend of ripe tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and lots and lots of fresh basil! There are several other Piemonte bagna styles and flavors, like the very savory anchovy and garlic-based bagna càuda.
At Anna Maria’s, we’ve put our own spin on the traditional bagna. Where the Italians would blend the dip to a smooth consistency, we’ve kept it nice and chunky for a more American style dip. This makes it not only the perfect dip for your bollito misto, but a delicious “Italian salsa” to eat with chips, bruschetta toasts, or on sandwiches and more.
All this talk about bollito and bagnas has made me hungry! Let’s get cooking already!