History of Parma Cuisine
Footnotes to Parmesan Gastronomy
"Who invented Stracotto pot roast?"
That braised beef or Stracotto (pot roast) is a typically Italian dish, savory and worthy of the best in our culinary tradition, goes without saying. One might debate its origins, if it comes from Piedmont and the way they prepare it in Saluzzo with Barolo, or from Tuscany, in which case it is called "stufato", or whether it is from Parma. Obviously, because the famous anolini of Parma require Stracotto in their preparation, it could be solemnly stated, once and for all, that Parma is the home of this dish. In any case, among collections of old recipes, I found one that is also listed by Cougnet and which, perhaps to make everyone happy, is simple called "Stracotto all'Italiana".
Here is that early version of this dish: "Lard a nice fillet of beef, marinate it in a dish with marsala, salt, pepper, fines herbes and truffle trimmings for at least four hours. An hour and a half before serving, in a casserole with butter and lard, brown thinly-sliced onion, carrot, celery and bouquet garni, add the fillet, moisten with the marinade garnish, add rich meat stock, cover with greased paper and simmer, basting occasionally. Remove the fillet, place in a oven-proof dish and pur?e the braising juices, pour over the meat and add two cups of velout? sauce, place in the front of the oven and moisten to reduce the temperature.
"Prepare a long elegant bed of rice, artfully sculpted and place on a long serving plate. Cut the center piece from the fillet, leaving a base one centimeter high, return the cut piece to its original place, place the fillet on the rice, edged Italian-style with spinach, celery and carrot, alternating the colors. Toss with Madeira sauce, white truffles and serve with the rest of the sauce on the side."
It goes without saying that Moreau de Saint Mary, Napoleon's governor of the Parma States from 1802 to 1806, also found it difficult to resist the joys of Parmesan cooking and its stracotto and anolini "dont on est très friend dans les Etats de Parme" and of which he was very fond. He certainly was not the first Frenchman to be won over by the delicacies of Parma.
From G. Gonizzi, Le memorie del Ciambellano. Storie di cucina nel Ducato. I, in Parma Capitale Alimentare, 43, 2000, pp 45-61.
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