As promised in this article we will give you some information and suggestions about the Lesso e Pearà, to guarantee you a perfect and exquisite result!
Let’s start with the Lesso, and make a little distinction between Lesso Veronese and Bollito alla Piemontese, there are few substantial differences:
- Meat cooking methods:
When we talk about the Bollito we mean that the meat is introduced into the water that is already boiling. When we talk about Lesso, we mean the meat that is introduced into the cold water and slowly brought to a boil.
With the first technique you will have a tastier meat but a more delicate broth, while with the second the opposite, a more substantial and tasty broth and a more delicate meat.
- Dish composition and meat cuts:
Piedmontese Bollito by tradition is composed of 4 parts: seven cuts of beef cooked together in the largest pot, seven small different meat pieces cooked in their own separate pots, seven Bagnèt or sauces (rustic green, rich green, red, horseradish, mustard, cugna, honey) and four side dishes (boiled potatoes, spinach in butter, sautéed mushrooms and sweet and sour onions).
While for the Lesso alla Veronese there are usually three or four cuts (including chicken) and it is accompanied by Pearà sauce.
The Lesso must be cooked over low heat, because everything must not boil, but simmer, remember, this is important.
In my opinion, the choice of the pot is not too important an aspect, but consider that:
1 – the higher the pot you use, the less liquids will evaporate, thus leaving a greater amount of broth inside.
2 – The thicker the bottom of your pot, the less you need fire.
That is: pot with a nice thick bottom = savings energy.
To recap: when you are less interested in having an excellent broth, but instead want a tasty boiled meat, immerse the raw meat in water that is already boiling. If you want an excellent broth (which is fundamental to make a good Pearà) put the meat and the veggies together with cold water in the pot.
If you followed my advices and are cooking the pieces of beef we mentioned, let them simmer for at least 3 hours. Remember to skim the broth in the first hour of cooking, it is very important. If you want to avoid frothing the broth during cooking, you can use my nonna’s trick, that is: prepare the Lesso in advance and let it cool outside the window (during the winter) or in the refrigerator, in this way all the fat will come on the surface and it will be easier to degrease the day following.
Personally, I believe that a mixture of aromas such as celery, carrots and onion can also be enough. The tomato paste, which is often used in the south, tends to make the broth more colorful obviously, but the original recipe is not debatable!
An extra tip? You can give an important and tasty note of flavor by adding a bay leaf or cloves, but it is optional and not essential to the success of the recipe. And remember to add the salt and pepper only at the end.
Consume the Lesso while it is hot, to maximize the flavor of the various pieces of meat.
If you have prepared it in advance, I recommend that you leave it in the cooking broth until you cut it. You will prevent the meat from becoming stringy.
Remember to always use good quality meat, it will make the difference, and if you have used fresh ingredients, both the boiled meat and the broth can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen, and reuse it for risotto or other recipes.
About the pearà, here there are some tips and info… while it cooks, it could make a crust on the bottom: do not scratch it with a spoon but leave it alone.Many Veronese people argue that Pearà is better if you forget it on the stove, mixing it as little as possible.
You can use old bread, but not too old. You will have to grate it finely. If you do not have it or in any case it is not dry enough, you can dry it a little in the oven. If it is already grated bread, you can toast it in a pan (without burning it).
Some do not use grana cheese (or parmesan) because being Pearà, at its origins, a popular and poor dish of the so-called “leftover-redo-cuisine”, the use of nutritious and precious cheese was not foreseen. In reality, the recipe changes depending on the area of Verona, and sometimes it changes from family to family.
The traditional pan on which to cook the pearà is the terracotta one (also called earthenware) “resting” on a flame spreader, but you can also use a non-stick pan with a thick bottom without any problem.
Pearà is a typical dish of winter, especially for dinners and lunches during the Christmas period.
So… here there are all my tips and extra info about this unique and delicious dish, I really hope that you’ll try it at home and let us know if you like it!
Happy Christmas to all of you!
Camilla & MJHC