Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Spezzatino di Bufala

There's been a few changes in Alba since I was last here six months ago and one of the more pleasing changes appeared before me in a not the truffle sign, the Buffalo one.

bufala sign
There's now a Buffalo butcher in town which means easy access to locally grown Buffalo and a full range of meat and dairy products, including a rather excellent Buffalo milk.

Now I'm sure this is going to be a regular haunt of mine and my first dish is a typical Spezzatino. The cut of meat I've used is very helpfully called "spezzatino" - it's basically cubed meat that is best used for stews. As buffalo meat is fairly lean I've added in a little bit of tasty fat in the form of pancetta. I know that in southern Italy it's not uncommon to use a local white wine in a spezzatino di bufala so I've applied that method and used a local white called Arneis.

Spezzatino di Bufala© by Haalo

Spezzatino di Bufala

500 grams buffalo meat, diced
100 grams pancetta, finely diced
2 small red onion, diced finely
2 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
4 cloves new seasons garlic
large sprig rosemary, chopped finely
4 sage leaves, chopped finely
freshly ground sea salt and white pepper
freshly ground chilli pepper
1 cup Arneis (white wine)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
parsley, fined chopped

Dust the meat in a little flour and sear quickly in a hot pan until brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set to one side.

Add the pancetta to the same pan and cook for a couple of minutes to render out some of the fat before tipping in the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary and sage - grind over with just a touch of salt (the pancetta is salty you won't need to add more more to the dish), while pepper and  chilli pepper. Gently sauté over a low heat until soft and just starting to colour. Don't rush this stage - slow cooking the vegetables will bring out all their flavour and release their juices into the pan.

When the vegetables are at the right stage, deglaze the pan with the Arneis - let the wine bubble and reduce for a minute or two before returning the seared meat to the pan. Stir through a tablespoon of tomato paste and just enough water or stock to almost cover the dish. Increase the heat to bring to a rapid simmer and then place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down and let it bubble away until the meat is soft and tender. For this particular dish, it only took about 1½ hours, removing the lid after an hour to help reduce the liquid.

If you want to extract the most amount of flavour then you'd let it cool down and sit overnight and then serve it the next day. All the flavours will have intermingled and developed nicely to further enrich the spezzatino.

Reheat over a low flame, stirring through some freshly chopped parsley. Serve it with buttery mashed potatoes and a little bread to mop up those rich stew juices.

Spezzatino di Bufala© by Haalo

I've been so impressed with this meat, it has veal like tenderness but with good flavour and the meat is so soft a fork could go right through it. I'm looking forward to trying some more.

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