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Christopher Behr's Holiday Menu

This festive holiday meal hits all the high notes. Double or triple the recipes, depending on how many guests you expect. The recipes below serve 4 to 6. Download a printer-friendly PDF of all five recipes here, or just order the book today!

For a limited time, all five of the Rome Sustainable Food Project cookbooks are on sale at 25% off. Or, buy the set of all five for $62.34, a savings of 40%.



Bollito di Manzo with Salsa Verde
Boiled Beef with Green Sauce

 

Carne includes recipes for eight sauces, but make as many or as few as you feel like or have time for; most take just a few minutes. Bollito on a buffet, surrounded by the dishes filled with sauces, is a fun and unusual showstopper. Salsa verde is the sauce most often served with bollito, and it’s also the easiest to make. For best results, the cooked meat should rest in the cooking liquid for 12 to 24 hours before serving.

For the Bollito di Manzo:

1 (4 lb / 1.8 kg) chuck eye roast, brisket, bone-in shanks, or short ribs, salted 12 to 24 hours in advance
Kosher salt
3 fresh bay leaves
3 cloves
½ bottle dry white wine (not oaked)
6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
3 turnips or fennel bulbs, peeled and cut into wedges

  1. Trim the meat of silverskin and connective tissue. Season generously with salt and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. This will allow the salt to penetrate and begin to tenderize the meat. 
  2. When you are ready to cook, place the beef in a large pot and add cold water to cover by 2 inches (5cm). Bring the liquid to a boil, then immediately turn the flame down to a gentle simmer. Use a ladle to skim any scum that rises to the top of the pot (these are coagulated proteins that, if not removed, will make the resulting broth cloudy), then add the bay leaves, cloves, and wine and return to a gentle simmer.
  3. Cook, uncovered, until the meat is fork-tender, but not falling apart. For best results, the meat should be allowed to cool in its cooking liquid overnight. If that is not possible, let the meat rest as long as possible in the liquid before slicing.
  4. Break the meat apart into large chunks, with a knife or two forks. For each diner, place a few pieces of meat in a shallow bowl, ladle the hot broth on top of the meat, and serve with the boiled vegetables and assorted sauces.

For the Salsa Verde:

½ cup (75 g) salt-packed capers, purged of salt (see below) and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced to a paste
½ bunch parsley, picked and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup (240 ml) olive oil
Kosher salt, if needed

  1. Purge the capers by rinsing off the excess salt, then simmer them in water for about 2 minutes. (Do not boil.) Drain, add fresh water, and simmer the capers for another 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Combine the capers and garlic. Mix in the parsley, then stir in the lemon juice and about a cup of good olive oil. Taste and season with salt if needed.

 



Fagioli all’uccelletto
Beans in the Style of Little Birds

 

The all’uccelletto of the recipe’s name refers to sage and garlic, which are often used to flavor roasted game birds.

1 lb (454 g) dried white beans, soaked overnight (use fresh beans when in season)
Aromatics in any combination: bay leaf, sprigs of sage and rosemary, carrot, celery, peeled garlic and onion
½ cup (120 ml) olive oil, plus additional for the tomato
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
A pinch of chili pepper flakes
1 large bunch sage, picked, larger leaves torn in half
1 (28 oz / 794 g) can whole San Marzano–style tomatoes, crushed by hand into small chunks

  1. When you are ready to cook, rinse and drain the beans, put them in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top. Once the foam is removed, add in the aromatics, along with ½ cup (120 ml) olive oil. Once the beans are cooked, season with salt, and allow them to rest in their liquid for at least a few hours; overnight is better.
  2. In a wide pan large enough to hold all the beans, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add in the smashed garlic and cook slowly with little browning. Add the chili pepper and sage and, still over low heat, cook them gently to infuse the oil with their flavors.
  3. Carefully tip the tomato into the pan and simmer until the oil and tomato are combined. Drain the beans, reserving the liquid, and add them to the pan. Add the bean liquid back into the pan as needed to keep the beans barely submerged. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the sauce to combine, being careful not to overcook the beans. Add additional salt if needed. 

 



Zucca in Agrodolce
Sweet and Sour Squash

 

½ cup (85 g) golden raisins
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Sugar
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
2 small red onions
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut horizontally into ½-in (1-cm) strips 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. First, pickle the raisins. In a small pot, combine the raisins, apple cider or white wine vinegar, a pinch each of salt and sugar, chili pepper, and just enough water to cover. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and allow the raisins to cool in the liquid. This can be done several days ahead.
  3. Halve and peel the onions and cut each half into four or six wedges depending on size. (You want the wedges to stay intact and not separate.) In a bowl, sprinkle the onions with salt, olive oil, and the red wine vinegar and toss. Place them on a sheet pan that is lined with parchment paper. Use your fingertips to spritz some water onto the pan to help steam the onions and allow them to cook through without burning.
  4. Toss the squash pieces in the same bowl with additional salt and oil. Spread them onto a different roasting tray, also lined with parchment paper. Put both trays in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes, sprinkling more water on the onions if necessary. The onions will be done first. Allow everything to cool to room temperature.
  5. To compose the plate: Shingle the squash pieces first, then top with the roasted red onion. Sprinkle with the pickled raisins, allowing some of the pickling liquid to dribble on top of the dish. If the plate looks a little dry, finish with a nice glug of olive oil.

 



Insalata de Radicchio con Mele Verde, Aceto Balsamice e Noci Tostate
Radicchio Salad with Green Apples, Balsamic Vinegar & Toasted Walnuts

 

Green apples not only provide a beautiful visual against the purple radicchio and a sweet counterpart to the bitter greens, but, pulsed into the balsamic vinaigrette, adding yet another refreshing layer of flavor.

½ cup (60 g) walnut halves
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2 heads radicchio (I prefer the Treviso variety)
2 green apples, stems removed, divided
¼ cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
½ cup (120 ml) mild olive oil, plus additional for toasting walnuts
Honey

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Toast the walnuts for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring them every few minutes, until light golden brown. Allow them to cool, then break them with your hands or chop with a knife into pieces. Toss the pieces with a small amount of olive oil and salt and set aside.
  2. Separate the radicchio leaves from the base of the plant, pulling away the whole leaves. Wash and dry them carefully, then tear the larger leaves into pieces.
  3. Chop one of the apples, along with its skin and seeds, and puree it in a food processor with the vinegars. Strain the puree through a sieve, pressing down to release all the juice. Put the puree in a bowl and whisk in olive oil and honey to taste. There is no exact amount for the honey, because it will depend on how sweet the apples and balsamic vinegar are. Season with salt.
  4. Slice the remaining apple into thin slices, discarding the core. Combine the radicchio, dressing, nuts, and sliced apples. You may not use all of the dressing. Adjust for seasoning and serve.