Simply Bollito!

Italians go crazy for bollito! At least our Italian friends do which in my eyes means that all Italians must love it! So what’s it all about? Simply put….boiled meat.

The name itself gives little indication of the relative deliciousness that awaits you. Bollito literally means boiled. No frills, no further explanation given. The first time I saw it on a menu my first question was “boiled what?”. My husband looked at me incredulously as if I’d asked what the capital of Italy was. Apparently bollito needs no further translation. “It’s meat. Boiled.”

No wine. No rich gravy. Just a pan of water with a few herbs thrown in and if you’ve got it, a carrot, onion and stick of celery for good measure. And this only because the bollito water is lovingly used as a brodo (stock) in soup or better yet in risotto once the bollito has been cooked and the meat removed.

So you’re probably wondering where the tastiness creeps in to a plate of meat boiled in water? Firstly the meat itself is incredibly tender after 3+ hours of boiling (or in reality…simmering) and then the magic touch are the sauces you then eat with the meat; traditionally a salsa verde made from parsley, sometimes a chutney-esque style sauce and agrodolce which are peppers and other vegetables pickled in a sharp sweet vinegar.

And that is bollito!

Traditionally made with poor cuts it has now become a fashionable dinner party dish using a mixture of beef, veal and poultry.

Selection of meat (red & white and at least one piece with fat to give the stock flavour), water, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, 2-3 cloves, 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick celery, leek (optional) salt and pepper.


1. Put the meat in a large pan and generously cover with cold water.
2. Chop the onion, carrot and celery and add with the mixed herbs.


3. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minimum of 3 hours keeping the pan covered. Add in extra water if required during this period.
4. Serve as suggested with a salsa verde and agrodolce and a side of vegetables.

Simply Bollito!


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