Manzo al limone Tuscany
Preparation - Medium
Serves 6 - 8
Tuscan recipes like this one, with lots of lemon flavor, are often said to be of Jewish origin. I'm not at all sure why. Historically, there have been important Jewish communities in the region, in Florence, of course, as the capital, and in Livorno, which was a major port. But even tiny Pitigliano, perched on a hilltop in southern Tuscany - so southern that it's closer to Rome than to Florence - had a large Jewish community. Like most in Italy, Pitigliano's Jews, a full 10 percent of the total village population of 3,000, disappeared with Fascism and the Nazi imposition of racial laws, although the synagogue still stands and holds occasional services. (Pitigliano's Jewish heritage has been beautifully detailed in The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews by Edda Servi Machlin, whose father was the rabbi of the community.)
Whether Jewish or not, the use of lemons adds sparkle to this basic Tuscan pot roast.
2 pounds beef round, rolled and tied
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup veal or chicken broth
Heavy casserole or saucepan with cover.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, slowly brown the meat on all sides in the oil.
While the meat is browning, grate the lemon and set the grated zest aside.
When the meat is thoroughly browned, sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of the grated lemon into the pot and add the broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover the pot, and cook very slowly for 3 hours, checking from time to time and adding a little more broth if necessary. At the end of the cooking time, stir in the grated zest and let cook another 10 to 45 minutes.
Remove the meat from its cooking juices and set aside to rest for 45 minutes. If the juices in the pan seem too thin, raise the heat and boil down to make a sauce. Slice the meat and arrange on a platter, covering the meat slices with the juices in the pan.