Tag Archives: Florence

Tender beef brisket with salsa verde

I’m still on a Le Creuset high and I’ve discovered a butcher at the nearby Tekka Markets in Little India that does all sorts of cuts of meat that I can’t easily find at my local supermarket (read: Tekka Markets = HEAVEN)

I went there in search of beef short ribs and ended up coming home with the ribs (post to come) and a giant slab of beef brisket. Inspired by a combination of a weekend of watching various cooking shows, with Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay both cooking delicious beef brisket, and my memory of the amazing panino bollito from Da Nerbone in Florence, I started making this dish in the morning, for dinner.

The result was ultra-soft meltingly tender beef that I sliced (actually shredded because it was so soft) and served with a fresh salsa verde on a baguette that I quickly dipped into the cooking juices. And I now also have a large pot of delicious beef stock which I will be storing first overnight in the fridge, skimming off the fat in the morning and then pour into ziplock bags that will be stored flat in my freezer.

Ingredients

  1. 2kg beef brisket
  2. 1 glass white wine
  3. 2 large onions cut into chunks
  4. 3 sticks celery, roughly sliced
  5. 2 large carrots, roughly sliced
  6. 1 head garlic
  7. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 bay leaves
  9. 5 cloves
  10. sea salt

For the salsa verde

  1. large handful flat parsley leaves
  2. good pinch of sea salt flakes
  3. good glug of extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2-3 shallots, finely diced
  5. 2 tbls red wine vinegar

Method

  1. Season the brisket with a generous amount of salt on both sides and then roll and tie your brisket. You could probably keep it flat, but I think rolling it helps when it needs to be sliced and served
  2. Heat up some oil on medium high in a dutch oven (or any cast iron or heavy-based pan with a lid)
  3. Brown the brisket on all sides – really get some colour on it
  4. Once browned, remove the brisket, and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine to release all those sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. The wine will quickly evaporate
  5. Reduce the head to medium and add the onions, gently sweating them for a few minutes before adding the carrots and celery and continuing to cook them till they slightly soften
  6. Put the beef back in, nestling it in amongst the vegetables and add the peppercorns, cloves and bay leaves, and then add enough water to just cover the beef
  7. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce the heat so that it’s at gently simmer. Let it slowly blip away, covered for 7 hours. You can also put the whole thing in your oven on 150 C / 300 F (I prefer it on the stove so I can easily peek in). If there is any beef uncovered by the water, turn it over halfway
  8. For the salsa verde: add the diced shallots to the red wine vinegar and set aside
  9. In a mortar and pestle, add the parsley leaves with the salt (make sure you use salt flakes as it helps to create more friction to help break down the parsley leaves) and pound/grind until you end up with bright green mush
  10. Add the olive oil to the parsley/salt mix
  11. Combine the parsley oil with the shallot/vinegar mix
  12. To eat: spread the salsa verde on your bun
  13. Dipping into the juices is optional – I dipped the super crusty end of my baguette
  14. Top with a generous amount of the sliced/shredded beef brisket and tuck in !

Nerbone at Mercato Centrale, Florence

I’m excited that this is my first post with a video ! I really think the video captures the entire experience, which is waiting for the slightly Soup Nazi guy behind the counter to slice super tender bollito – boiled beef – or lampredotto – tripe/the fourth stomach of the cow – before piling it on to crusty roll along with a fresh green salsa and fiery red sauce.

The place is mobbed with hungry locals and tourists. No-one tells the tourists that there is no queue system here. You order and pay at a separate counter, then it’s like being in a bar – shuffle your way (using elbows if you must) and try to make eye contact with the man who will give you what you want. You can see how soft the meat is as he slices and chops it, and before he adds the meat to the crusty roll, he dips the roll into the beef’s own juices. It adds just the right amount of juiciness to the roll, which is probably why they have been around since the market opened in 1874.

My topped up panini being assembled

D and I ordered one roll of each. I love tripe, but even for me, an entire roll full of tripe was a bit much, so I went back and ordered a half portion more of the bollito and “topped up” my roll.

Both beef and lampredotto were meltingly tender and so full of flavour. We stuffed our faces while watching him make roll after roll for other hungry customers.

If you are in Florence and love simple food, you absolutely must go to the Mercato Centrale (which is awesome in itself for the produce you can get there) and visit Nerbone.

You can also get roast meat sandwiches, which also looked awesome, but you need to prioritise your precious stomach space because they are only open from 7am – 2pm.

Nerbone
Inside Mercato Centrale, entrance on Via dell’Ariento, stand no. 292 (ground floor)
Near San Lorenzo & the Mercato Centrale


Trattoria Mario

The photo does not do the size and deliciousness of the steak any justice

Trattoria Mario was once written up in an American newspaper as one of Florence’s great secrets, which of course led to thousands of visitors wanting to sample the house speciality – Bistecca alla Fiorentina. For a good reason.

Skip breakfast (you’ll need the tummy space) and head there for an early lunch if you don’t fancy waiting outside the tiny trattoria with your nose pressed up against the glass watching people feasting inside. It’s rustic Florentine fare, from the simple seating area with waiters and cooks doing what they do best amongst the loud chattering customers, to the delicious T-Bone steaks they serve there. There is one menu written on the chalkboard next to the kitchen, and beverages are written in ink on the window that separates the kitchen from the seating area.

The menu is limited. They don’t really need much else, people go there for the steak. And with good reason.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is essentially a large (minimum 700g) T-bone steak of mature beef, aged at least 20 days grilled over hot coals for a quick five minutes each side and then 15 minutes standing on its edge. No seasoning is added until being served, where salt and pepper is liberally sprinkled over with a final drizzle of olive oil and a wedge of lemon on the side.

The steaks are cut to order from an enormous slab of beef. The outside is seared till it’s almost crispy, while the inside of the steak is perfectly rare. The flavour explosion that comes from the first and each subsequent mouthful is insanely good. It needed nothing other than a caraffe of Brunello di Montalcino.

I also love that on their home page it says “we only have indoor seating and we don’t serve pizza”.  No compromise.

Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina 2r
Firenze, Italia
Tel: 055 218550

email: trattoriamario@libero.it

Open for Lunch only.
Seating from 12:00 to 3:30 Monday through Saturday.
Closed Sundays and holidays.

No reservations. We will take your name when you arrive and seat you when space becomes available. Seating is communal.
Cash only. We do not take credit cards or travelers checks.


Procacci – home of the truffle sandwich

Procacci’s famous truffle sandwich

Procacci has been serving panini tartufati in the heart of Florence since 1885. Translated directly as truffle sandwich, soft rolls are filled with delicious truffle salsa. They do serve other small snacks, but really, why would you bother ? A gorgeous place to have a short afternoon break with a glass (or several) of prosecco to accompany the sandwiches.

Coincidentally, Procacci opened their first operations outside of Europe in Singapore ! (Their second was opened in Vienna in 2006)

I’m thinking that may be the destination for dinner very very soon.

Procacci
Via Tornabuoni, 64/r
50123 Florence

Tel: +39 055 211656
Email: firenze@procacci1885.it

Open: 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., from Monday to Saturday; closed on Sundays