Boiled meat, Lesso, is an ancestral technique, dating back to the primitives. In Italy, the Carrello dei Bolliti (referring to the trolley used to carry all different kinds of boiled meat) was born in the Middle Ages and belongs to a tradition typical of the so called Mezzaluna del Bollito – Boiled Meat Crescent – spread in Emilia, Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont.
In the past, meat used to be very expensive, thus Bollito was cooked only on special occasions, to celebrate religious festivals and important family occurrences. The habit of linking this food to a sanctifying function is still true nowadays, and Bollito is always present on Christmas lunch table!
Carrello del Lesso is made up of many meat cuts , belonging to different animals, even though traditionally there’s a list of the element that cannot miss, such as pork shoulder, beef, tongue and veal brisket. The tradition of Emilia also includes pig’s trotter an cotechino, a further evidence of the strong relation linking the farming of pigs and the area comprised between Parma and Modena. The stuffed chicken is a peculiarity of Reggio Emilia, in which the filling is made of eggs, breadcrumbs and abundant Parmigiano Reggiano.
A non-written rule when eating Lesso is that meats must be served with their Salsine (sauces): green and red sauce, mixed pickles, horseradish and mustard, even the superhot kren. Their role is that of making the meat savory and remedy to the driest meat cuts. Only a few know that green sauce belongs to Reggio Emilia cuisine. Made with parsley, peppers, anchovies, capers and oil, it is in contrast with its equivalent, Bagnet Vert, from Piedmont.