Food and Recipes
Diana Monaco makes... CIMA - the Ligurian Way
By Diana Monaco
Italian: Chi avrà fame per i denti e chi rogerà i denti sul pavimento!
Translated: He who has bread has no teeth and who has teeth has no bread!
This dish is a famous Ligurian creation, using the meat that was available throughout the region. In this recipe, the meat in fact, is just used to wrap the filling that is made of various delicate ingredients. It is prepared in generous propotions so the leftovers can also be served as a light tasty broth for another meal. Originally this was considered a very simple healthy dish but over time, with well-being in mind, it turned into a richer dish. The essential element of this recipe, although it may seem strange, is the herb marjoram, used in a time gone by, by the Genovesi locals.
Finding the main ingredient may not easy. The meat is a thinly cut slice of calf's belly (veal), which outside of Liguria may be difficult to find, so It is advisable to order the meat from the butcher a few days before.
1.2 kg of the calf's belly meat (veal) - used to wrap the filling.
1 kg of Green leaves such as Chard
4 eggs (2 of which are hard boiled)
2 heaped tablespoons Bicarbonate of soda
1 boiled carrot and cut vertically into four pieces
Cooked ham, cubed
White wine and Vegetable stock cube
Cloves, Nutmeg, Lettuce, Marjoram
Carrot - Onion - Celery - Garlic - Potato - Bay Leaf
Oil - Balsamic Vinegar - Salt and Pepper to taste
In a pan together with some water and a stock cube, add oil, the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, bay leaf and a potato that has been cut into wedges and to add consistency to the sauce, add three cloves. This is the basis of a stock that will cook the meat.
In the meantime, fold the meat in two and using cooking thread, sew the meat up both sides so it is well sealed and leaving the top open, to create a kind of parcel.
For the stuffing:
Blanch the chard in hot water, drain well and squeeze out the liquid, then chop with a knife and pt into a bowl. Add to it 2 eggs, some parmesan cheese, oil and grated bread if needed, the chopped cooked ham and a little vinegar. Add any of the remaining ingredients, especially the marjoram and salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared meat parcel 2/3rds of the way and then add the two boiled eggs (one above the other) and the boiled carrot that has been chopped and arrange in different places, so when the meat is sliced, it will be well presented.
Add the remaining filling but making sure that you have enough room to be able to seal the top using once again the cooking thread so the filling does not seap out during the cooking process.
This dish can be cooked in two ways:
1) Place the meat parcel in the pot with the prepared stock and vegetables. Add the white wine over the meat and continue to add more wine as and when the liquid evaporates. You should cook for about an hour and a half.
(Instead of the above, you can place in a low casserole oven dish and cover with the vegetable from broth mixture and pour over some white wine. Remove the cloves and add a mix of a little balsamic and a teaspoon of sugar. Bake for an hour, to an hour and a half, constantly drizzling over the meat the liquid from the broth and white wine, to prevent drying out.)
When the meat is cooked, place it in between two plates and place weights on top of the top plate and leave to rest for at least three hours To serve, slice and accompany with the cooked vegetable sauce.
Meat parcel in between plates after cooked ** Meat parcel wrapped in cotton cloth before being cooked
This second cooking version is a preferred method:
2) The meat parcel is prepared in the same way as above but before placing into the vegetable broth, it is wrapped in a cotton cloth and cooked for a minimum of two hours. When cooked, drain well and once again place the parcel in between two plates with a weight on it. Leave to cool for at least a couple of hours. To serve, slice not too thick or too thin.