Monday, July 23, 2012

Spezzatino - Leftovers at their best :)

The pride I took in cooking this simple hearty dish is immense. The biggest satisfaction came from the fact that while it was cooking, my kitchen smelled like my mother's. I could close my eyes for a second and just be tele-transported over next to her, while the wooden stove is on, by the table my parents built together one spring from marble and iron. Fantastic. 
I never had the nerve to cook this before because I just love my mother's Spezzatino, it's one of the things she cooks often during the winter and I was afraid I would be hugely disappointed. I didn't want to spoil that taste.
But being November here in Ireland most of the time, I found no more arguments against it. I just had to try and hope for the best.
So, the principle of the Spezzatino is simple: you throw in the tall pot anything you have at hand.
My mother's Spezzatino is quite simple:

Stewing Beef pieces
A stalk of Celery
One Onion
A clove of Garlic
Tomato Sauce
Olive Oil

Everything is washed/peeled/chopped (except the celery) and placed in the tall pot with a bit of olive oil. Salt is added, then tomato sauce and then enough water to reach almost the top of the pot, let's say you leave the top 5 centimeters.
It has to slowly boil and cook, the meat will release its full flavor that way. You will need to taste it before it's ready for the salt.
Once the soup evaporated enough, I decided it was time to eat. The time of great truth!
I was tempted to add one of my yummy vegetable stock cubes, but then I decided against it, I wanted the Spezzatino just like Mamma's.
And indeed it was!!! Oh joy, I could not believe it, I was so happy I ate two plates... So, so proud to accomplish such unmistakable taste!
This is what it looks like in the plate. The soup is not too thick nor too thin, just the way I like it. But mind your tongue, the vegetables are quite hot!!!
On top I enjoy a bit of chilly powder. My father would cover it in grated Parmigiano cheese. 
And of course, make sure you have bread at hand, you will WANT to clean the plate with it!

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