Times may change but the restaurant business has always been given to elements that are fickle and finnicky. Our brother-in-law Enrico had to give up running a restaurant in Rome in November of a year ago and took over one in Marino called “Cantina Colonna” which had been very popular towards the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. One year later and the efforts he has put into the place, together with partner and artist Alberto, are beginning to bear fruit. The menu is Roman, down-to-earth, tasty and seasonal and if excitement is not on the menu, honesty is. I had dinner there my niece and her partner visiting from Sweden just last week; I picked them up on a cold, wet and shivery evening at Fiumicino airport. We didn’t get to the restaurant until 10 o’clock and weren’t too surprised to be the only customers that evening (mid week can be very slow). They were both pooped, coming as they did from long back-to-back meetings for work and the trip itself and I encouraged them to eat. Which they did, and with great relish. The next morning, Ulrika remarked on how surprising it was that she had slept so well given how much she had eaten and at such a late hour. “It must mean that the food is good.” Exactly.
When my husband and I had dinner at Enrico’s a few weeks ago, he suggested we try his veal brisket. Please take a look at the following two photos. They may not be great shots but do admit: doesn’t that look like a fab joint of roast?
Look at the serving plate awash with delicious “sughetto”, gravy.
So of course I had to have the recipe, and here is my attempt.
The recipe is called “punta di petto di vitella alla fornara”, which translates something like this: the point of the brisket cooked the baker’s way. The ‘point’ refers to a part of this cut of meat … and that’s the whole ‘point’ of this blog post, haha. This cut of meat is relatively inexpensive (Eu 12.90/kg) because it contains quite a bit of cartilage. Enrico said that all he did was slather it with olive oil, rosemary and sage, seasalt and use some white wine to help cook it and produce the gravy.
You will need fresh rosemary and sage leaves. Chop them up together. Transfer to a glass bowl and drown the herbs with oodles of olive oil. Have some coarse seasalt at the ready.
Here is the veal brisket. Pat it dry.
Here it is rolled out. I took one clove of garlic (only one!) and sliced it into three pieces. I inserted the pieces inside the meat.
I proceeded to anoint the meat on this side first, adding the salt crystals last.
I then turned the ‘anointed’ part of the meat over and tucked in both ends of the meat, so that it is now shaped almost like a scroll. More slathering of herb infused olive oil, more sprinkling of beautiful salt.
Enrico said to roast the meat for about 40 minutes at 180°C.
While it was roasting, I poured out about 250ml of Frascati wine into the wine caraffe that is typical of around here and Rome. The one litre is called “tubbo”, the half litre size is called “fojetta”, the 250ml size is called “un quartino” , 1/5th of a litre is called “chierichetto” and the smallest size, 1/10th of a litre, is called “sospiro”. I’ll write another blog about the story behind these caraffes another time, it’s quite droll really and has to do with popes and levying taxes.
Forty minutes later and I removed the roast from the oven and poured all the wine into the roasting pan (not over the meat). Back it went for another 20 minutes, as per Enrico’s instructions.
And that is what came out of the oven. The scent, by the way, was nostril-twitching stuff.
However … when I sliced the meat to take a peek … I saw that it was still a little undercooked. And by undercooked, I don’t mean ‘pink’, I mean undercooked.
So I added more Frascati wine and popped it back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. This is the thing about ovens, they are all different and they are all very unreliable. Everyone has to know their own oven.
I let the meat rest for the briefest of minutes because we had guests for dinner and it was just the right time now for our ‘secondo’, our main course. I was too lazy to remove the cartilage.
So much lovely gravy!
Surrounded by friendly roast potatoes.
Tender as can be and sitting over a puddle of gravy.
And much appreciated by our neighbours that evening. It was a potluck affair, which I love, and what you see on my plate here is an Insalata Russa with beetroot in it, yum.
The next day. Leftovers, yay!
I heated the gravy.
The meat had spent something like 15 minutes in a warm oven that I turned off as soon as I put the meat in. I didn’t want the meat to cook further, I just wanted it to be warm.
Yes, the plate needs a swipe. But I was concentrating on the meat, not the plate.
See how it glistened?
My husband said it tasted even better the next day.
I can’t sing its praises highly enough. Thank you Enrico!