I assumed that I would have loved lampredotto. I’ve always been pretty adventurous in eating: I can not say I tasted insects, snakes or weird fermented foods in my travels, but I ate my share of sweetbreads, tongue, stuffed hen neck, tripe and buristo. Tuscan cucina povera has a wide selection of recipes that start right from the fifth quarter, the offal, transforming it and ennobling, making it palatable.
So, a few years ago, when the blog was still young and I was looking for a gastronomic identity, I decided to eventually try the real deal, the lampredotto in Florence. I took the bus to Florence to meet some friends for lunch. They were not common people, they were my best example of doc florentines. Some people go to Spain for the bar crawl in the evening, having fun with a few drinks and tapas. Well, that day I did a tour of the local kiosks of trippai, tasting three different panini al lampredotto.
I did not take into account, not even for a moment, that I could not like the lampredotto. I leaned toward the kiosk and grabbed the warm overstuffed panino, a semel full of steaming hot lampredotto, salsa verde and a lot of black pepper. I closed my eyes and took a firm, full bite.
First comes the black pepper, intense, dry, almost balsamic. Then the salsa verde takes over, a blend of herbaceous and vinegary, which powerfully stimulates your taste buds and makes you salivate. Then it comes, the lampredotto: the taste is much more delicate than you might expect, it is even more gentle than tripe. Centuries of practice, of real life and of hunger made it perfect and balanced.
That was my first bite at my first panino al lampredotto: our love story began with all the best premises. From that day, I’ve been enjoying my lampredotto when in Florence and I’ve been cooking it even at home, simply boiled and served with salsa verde or with spinach and some blistered cherry tomatoes.
It takes a pinch of spirit of adventure to try it for the first time, though not everyone has the desire to start the acquaintance with lampredotto from the panino on a street kiosk. If this is your case, there’s a place for you: in Florence there is an osteria, Il Magazzino, right in Piazza della Passera, where the menu is all based on the quinto quarto, offal, which takes really seriously the nose to tail approach to cooking. Tripe, tongue, liver… they are not relegated to a secondary role on the menu, they create it and make it unique. There I tried lampredotto meatballs that would change your mind on offal even if you are the most skeptical detractor.
If you want to try lampredotto in an even more palatable recipe, there would be a risotto…
Risotto al lampredotto with salsa verde
You know, rice is not one of the most popular ingredients in Tuscan cooking. In the books of typical recipes it makes its appearance for squid ink risotto from the coast and especially in sweet treats like rice cake, rice pudding tartlets and the classic carnival fritters.
Yet slowly the rice has found its way, especially teamed up with seasonal vegetables: my grandma taught me almost immediately how to make a killer mushroom risotto or a risotto with artichokes, recipes that she had in turn learnt from my great grandmother.
The risotto with lampredotto is now quite known in Tuscany, and has already made its appearance on this blog, one of the first recipes.
Today this risotto al lampredotto has made an impressive quantum leap. I used a brown Carnaroli rice, probably the most precious of Italian rices, often referred to as the king of rices. In this game the king of rices is playing with one of the main ingredients of the Florentine cucina povera, lampredotto.
As in the iconic panino, the salsa verde has a fundamental role. Add it just before serving along with a generous dusting of black pepper, roughly crushed in a mortar, or use it, as unusual ingredient, to your cream risotto and make it even more Florentine.
Risotto al lampredotto with salsa verde
Ingredients for the lampredotto and its broth
- 1 carrot
- 1 rib of celery
- 1 red onion
- 1 clove
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 leaf of basil
- 1 heaping tablespoon of salt
- 250 g of pre-cooked lampredotto
Ingredients for the risotto
- 80 g of butter
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 200 g of brown Carnaroli rice*
- ½ glass of white wine
- About 750 ml of broth
- 250 g of lampredotto
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons of salsa verde
- Make the lampredotto broth. Fill a large pot of water, add carrot and celery cut into pieces, the peeled onion with the clove stuck inside, parsley, basil and salt. Bring it to the boil, add the lampredotto and lower the heat. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, then turn it off and set aside.
- Now make the risotto. Slice thinly the shallots and place them in a saucepan with half the amount of butter and the olive oil. Melt the butter and cook the shallots over medium-low heat until softened. Add the rice and toast it for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- When the rice is translucent, pour in the wine and let it evaporate completely.
- Cook the risotto, adding gradually the hot broth: stir constantly and let the rice absorb the broth before adding more.
- After about 40 minutes, when the rice is almost ready, add the lampredotto cut into thin strips and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly with energy: you'll have a creamier risotto.
- Remove the risotto from the heat, add the remaining butter and whip the risotto with a wooden spoon until the fat has been completely absorbed. Add a dusting of ground black pepper and the salsa verde, stir one last time and serve immediately.
As first thing make your salsa verde: you’ll get much more salsa than you’ll actually need. Keep it in the fridge for a few days, spread it over some crostino or serve it with bollito misto, a selection of different boiled cuts of meat.
- A large bunch of parsley
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of capers
- 2 slices of stale bread without crust
- Red wine vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Put an egg in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook the egg for 8 minutes, until ready. Let it cool, then remove the shell.
- Soak the bread in water and vinegar, then squeeze out all the water. Crumble the bread in a bowl.
- Chop the parsley with a sharp knife along with garlic and capers. Add them into the bowl with the crumbles bread. Crumble the egg and add it to the salsa.
- Pour plenty of extra virgin olive oil, stir well and season with salt.
So you took your decision, today is the day to taste lampredotto. Here you can find some links that will help you complete your task!
- Here a comprehensive post on lampredotto as quintessential Florentine street food, with some history and tips on where to go.
- My favourite Girl in Florence, Georgette, has discovered that Tripe and Lampredotto can actually be good. Good advice on where to eat trippa and lampredotto in Florence and actually like it.
- A video for you. Chef Vito Mollica from Four Seasons Florence’s restaurants teaches us what lampredotto is and how to turn it into a gourmet sandwich recipe everyone will love.
- A very informative article on lampredotto and a quote that every Dan Brow’s lover would just adore: I pass behind the palazzo with its crenellated tower and one-handed clock… snaking through the early-morning vendors in Piazza di San Firenze with their hoarse voices smelling of lampredotto and roasted olives.
- Tuscanycious offers you also a map with the best trippai in Florence, don’t miss it.