Oct 23, 2011

Picchiapò recipe

Picchiapò recipe
Image © Gina Tringali 

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with work buddies Gina and Brette over a hearty plate of this fabulous stew during what was supposed to be a serious business meeting. We roared with laughter, downed a mezzo litro of the house wine, burned our lips with the fiery red peperoncino flavoring the sauteed cicoria ripassata, and sopped our plates clean with warm chunks of pizza bianca.
Of course we were planning future food tours and comparing past culinary travel experiences, so food was the recognized topic at the center of our conversation.

Picchiapò has a funny name, it could easily translate to "beat just a little" but I'm guessing the etymology lies elsewhere. This is a typical Roman cucina povera dish, and one that naturally involves recycling of leftovers, namely bollito. Each family makes their own, so there is no official recipe. This is the one I've always known, shared by true trasteverini Romans.
If you remember seeing the 1974 Ettore Scola masterpiece C'eravamo tanto amati, friends Vittorio Gassman, Nino Manfredi and Stefano Satta Flores eat picchiapò at a trattoria.

After boiling beef muscle and bone for 3 hours with celery, carrots, onions studded with cloves and whatever else you add in your bollito to make good meat stock; and then letting it rest overnight, you can finally proceed to making your own personal variation of picchiapò. Here's mine.

500 g (1.1 lbs) leftover boiled beef or veal, possibly not too lean - roughly chopped
2-3 yellow or red onions, finely chopped
400 g (2 cups) canned tomatoes, crushed
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 peperoncino chili pepper
1 bay leaf
Extra virgin olive oil
2 glasses of dry, white wine
Salt to taste

Wilt the onions with 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide saucepan. Pour in the wine and let it evaporate while the onions turn a nice golden color.
Add the tomatoes and spices/herbs, and let cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce somewhat.
Fold in the leftover chopped meat and let it simmer gently for another 7-10 minutes.
Serve hot alongside mashed potatoes, or sauteed seasonal greens.


  1. we make lesso rifatto- which is more onions than beef- red wine and tomatoes. If you have them you also add potatoes. Nothing better than old classics!

  2. Looks great Eleonora. A recipe to try definitely. My son is keen on seasonal greens!

  3. peccato che non italiano o polacco

  4. Judy~
    I agree, and the Tuscan lesso rifatto sounds a lot like Neapolitan "genovese" :)

    That in the photo is cicoria strascinata, bitter chickory that's been blanched and then sauteed in olive oil, chili pepper and garlic.

    Mi dispiace! Devo assolutamente decidermi a mettere la doppia opzione di lingua... Grazie!

  5. Now this is my kind of eating! I love bollito rifatto in all sorts of ways. Now I can add one more to my repertoire, thanks!

  6. Never heard of this dish! And I even dated a girl from Rome for a long, long time...

  7. I love Benito's Picchiapo'! It's one of my favorite comfort foods. And frankly, it's so affordable and delicious at his place, that I rarely end up making it at home.

  8. Frank~
    Benissimo, happy you like the romanesco way :)

    Tuscan Foodie~
    You didn't date her long enough! ;)

    I have walked by Benito a million times and never eaten there once. It was a great find, I really have to thank Brette for introducing me to its affordable and delicious menu, and priceless ambiance.

  9. i am hungry, so i came to see what you have cooking. :)
    sending hugs and love,

  10. LoriAnn~
    Ciao bella! Sorry the last few things I "cooked" were for ardent carnivores... But stick around for dessert, which I'll be posting soon :)

  11. I love the idea of serving this alongside greens. :-) That sounds so savory and hearty, especially on a cold day.

  12. By the way, since I had found myself with a lot of boiled beed after preparing a stock for my onion soup, I ended up making your picchiapo'. Very good indeed.