Picchiapò – pronounced peek-ya-poh

Leftovers are sneered at by people who subscribe to reasons that are either piously self-complacent or scientifically hygienic.  The first believe that there should never be a surfeit of food,  that planning and good husbandry are the essence of a proper meal, and that it’s a shame to be wasteful when thousands of people are dying of hunger each day.  The latter adduce all kinds of ailments that follow upon the ingestion of cooked food that is a day old, since foods degenerate and decompose so quickly, attracting all kinds of greedy bacteria in their midst.  In Ayurveda, I believe, it is thought that re-heating any food is tantamount to eating ‘bad’ energy and I myself would never dream of re-heating any food more than once. All this to say that, yes, we should appreciate the value of food and that, yes again, we should aim to eat our food as soon as it is cooked.  When there ARE some leftovers of meat, however, and the meat in question is still perfectly good or, instead, when the recipe for cooking the meat is such that it’s only worth cooking a rather large amount of meat at any one time (e.g. bollito, boiled meat), I really do not see what is wrong with making the most of the situation and …. enjoying a very tasty dish, even if it is made up of leftovers! And if we want to join the bandwagon of the pious, all I can say, hands on hips and a tilted-to-one-side head, with a back-at-ya look of defiance, is that there is a very good adage: waste not, want not.  So there … mneah. This is the case of the very Roman ‘picchiapò’ recipe, whose name as far as origin goes eludes every source I’ve researched for a couple of days now.  Apparently, there is something very similar in Tuscany called ‘la francesina’ but that isn’t helpful.  Fundamentally, the recipe consists in taking advantage of the meat used to make stock (bollito).  We forget that in the past, boiled meat was a very normal and indeed desirable dish, set even before kings — and even today, the Gran Bollito of Bologna is considered to be quite the gourmet experience.  The boiled meat of the picchiapò was, instead, a more frugal concoction that even the poorer classes could enjoy.  That’s what I absolutely adore about Italian food … that even poorer people could enjoy a tasty dish. Sauté some onion (garlic too if you like it) … the recipe calls for a clove or too, and I always add peppercorns, but they are optional. Tomatoes and bayleaf, sage and rosemary … any mixture of herbs that you adore.  The tomatoes can be plum tomatoes out of a tin, they do not need to be fresh. Start by sautéing the onions and garlic and when they turn golden, add the tomatoes … Add the fresh herbs … Cover with a lid and cook for about 10-15 minutes on a medium heat (the sauce needs to simmer). The sauce is now ready. Add salt and pepper (chilli is a brilliant addition too) … taste and adjust the seasoning according to your likes. Add the leftover meat.  In this case, it happened to be a bit of steak that I cut up. Combine the meat with the sauce, turn on the heat again … Cook for about 5 minutes, preferably with the lid on (but you don’t have to). At this point in the post, I must apologise for the coitus interruptus, as it were, missed photo opportunity … but by the time the picchiapò was served on two plates (one for my son and the other for his friend), the phone rang and that was that … there was no time for me to snap the classic “here-it-is-just-about-to-be-served” photo.  So, you will have to trust me … when I say that picchiapò is so tasty that it should be considered much much more than a ‘leftover’. Suffice it say that my son and his friend devoured the lot and mopped up the sauce with bread.  Bad table manners but who cared. Here is a photo of a picchiapò dish that I found on another site: http://www.acasadiross.com/A_CASA_DI_ROSS/Foto_Rieti_-_osteria.html#50


About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
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3 Responses to Picchiapò – pronounced peek-ya-poh

  1. We have just one house rule – no left over food that’s more than 3 days’ old because we reckon by then it’s well and truly dead. Bollito Misto is a favourite – but with no veal, no head offals, etc in England’s Nanny State, what can a cook do ?(Answer: go to Boulogne for the day!).

  2. sally haddock says:

    Hi DarlingLoved this …cooked it recently with left over steak…scrummy….am enjoying your posts.

  3. Valentina says:

    So much can be done with leftover food. I agree never to reheat food, but turning it into something else, yes, I am all for it. Italians believe on the #3: keep food in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days and in the freezer for no more than 3 weeks.

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