01 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto: What's On The Plate
Tuscan festive meals usually start with a mixture of antipasti, consisting of cold cuts, crostini, and generally something else, either pickles or cheese or perhaps both, and perhaps a sauce or two. If you're in a home the antipasti will be presented in platters, which people pass about, picking and choosing.
In a restaurant this is obviously less practical, and to avoid the risk of a run on something especially enticing that leaves others at the table without, the antipasto is often assembled in the kitchen and brought out in individual portions, like this, which was prepared by the Osteria L'Antica Quercia, in Barberino Val D'Elsa.
Starting at 6 O'clock, we have assorted crostini, followed by assorted cold cuts, and in the center a nice chunk of Pecorino Toscano drizzled with aceto balsamico. In the next shots I have highlighted them one at a time, to help you recognize them.Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Crostino alle Olive Nere
This is quite simple, a slice of bread toasted over the coals, and spread with balck olive paté. Quite tasty, and easy to do.
8 slices bread, of the kind you prefer
1/2 pound (225 g) black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
Julienned strips of orange or lemon zest (just the colored part), optional
Begin by mincing or blending the olive pulp. If you are blending, use short bursts.
Transfer the olive pulp to a bowl and work the olive oil into it, mixing well.
Toast the bread, and rub the slices lightly with the garlic,
Spread the paté over the slices, decorate each crostino with a strip or two of zest if you want, and serve.
Note: Depending upon the size of the slices of bread and the function (party food or antipasto) you may want to cut the slices into triangles before you spread the paté over them.
Another Black olive crostini recipe, with zucchini too.Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Crostini ai Fegatini Di Pollo
Fegatini are chicken livers, and I can say from personal experience that even those who are not great fans of liver greet chicken liver crostini with a smile: the process of transforming the liver into paté works a magical transformation on the liver, which retains its livery accents but becomes somehow addictive too.
Continue to 4 of 9 below.
- Plain Chicken Liver Crostini
- Crostini Alla Senese, which also contain spleen
- Anchovy and Chicken Liver Crostini
04 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Crostini Verdi
There was a certain debate at our table about what these were, and we eventually decided they were based on broccoli. And quite good. I don't have a recipe for the broccoli paté, but one could achieve a similar effect with dried fava bean paté, or one could make crostini with spinach and anchovies:
8 Slices of toasted bread of the kind preferred (remove and discard the crusts if you want), cut into triangles if desired
1 pound (450 g) spinach, washed well (frozen will also work - thaw it)
3 anchovies, boned, rinsed and crumbled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
Wilt the spinach in a pot, using just the water that adheres to the leaves after you washed it. When it is thoroughly wilted, drain it well, mince it or blend it using short pulses, and put it in a pan with half the butter and the anchovies.
Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, stirring constantly, and while doing this toast the bread.
Stir the cream and the cheese into the spinach mixture, mix well, and turn off the heat.
Butter the toasted bread with the remaining butter, spread the spinach over it, and serve.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Prosciutto
People have written books about Northern Italy's cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, prosciutto can be divided into two categories: dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). Here we have the latter.
Prosciutto salato is more heavily salted than prosciutto dolce, and is also rubbed with a spice mixture called agliata, made with garlic and pepper. The meat is frequently darker in color, and the fat can be pinkish.
Making Prosciutto ToscanoContinue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - SalameA Salame (plural salami, while cold cuts in general are called salumi -- note the u) is a cured sausage generally made by grinding lean pork with pork fat to make a paste, and stuffing the paste into a casing, generally pig's intestine. The salame is then aged in a cool dark, well ventilated place until it's ready. Like prosciutto, Italian salami is raw, with the meat being cured by the salt in the spice mix.The concept sounds simple and is, but within the category there are tremendous variations, both in the grind of the meat and the fat, which result in different textures, and in the spicing mixes used to season the meat.Because of this, almost every town in Italy has a local salame, and if the town isn't known for its pork it may be made from another kind of meat, for example asino (ass) or oca (goose -- Friuli Venezia Giulia is known for its goose salami and prosciutto, both of which are made under Rabbinical supervision and thus Kosher).Making Salame ToscanoContinue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Finocchiona
Finocchiona is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.
There are two kinds of finocchiona.
- One is called finocchiona, and is made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while; it's fairly firm.
- The other is called sbriciolona, a word that means crumbly, and though the mixture is the same it's much fresher -- so fresh that it simply crumbles unless sliced about a half inch thick. A good sbriciolona is an amazing treat, especially on a slice of schiacciata.
Making FinocchionaContinue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - CapocolloAlso known as coppa, this is cured pork shoulder but. Again raw, and prepared with salt, herbs, and spices.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
A Tuscan Antipasto Misto - Pecorino Toscano
Pecorino Toscano is a mildly flavored, firm sheep's milk cheese that looks and tastes quite similar to Pecorino Sardo (and is quite different from the much saltier Pecorino Romano). This similarity is no accident; when Tuscan farmers abandoned the land in the late 50s and early 60s, preferring new houses in town with modern amenities and better paying factory jobs, Sardinian shepherds took their places, bringing their flocks with them and making cheese as they always had. And very fine cheese it is. This slice was drizzled with Aceto Balsamico, which provides a delightful contrast to the creamy slightly pungent milkiness of moderately aged sheep's milk cheese.
- About Pecorino Toscano
- About Pecorino Romano