Culinary, Travel & Lifestyle Stories


Christmas day menu

Timeless favourites for an Italian-inspired celebration

Vitello Tonnato

Tortellini in Brodo

Lasagne with Ragù & Chicken Livers

Beef-Wrapped Cotechino

Muscat-Scented Zabaione




Roast Beef with tuna sauce

A classic Piedmontese appetiser, revisited



For the beef:
1.5 kg topside of beef
2 onions, peeled
2 carrots, peeled & halved
2 sticks celery
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 sprig rosemary
A few fresh sage leaves
2-3 bay leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Fine-grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the tuna sauce:
150 g oil-packed tuna fillets, drained
40 g capers, drained
8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
4 eggs, hard boiled
Juice of 1/2 lemon lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
150 ml of extra virgin olive oil, or as needed


Let the beef come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C.

Place all the vegetables and herbs into a large roasting tray. Drizzle with oil. Season the beef with oil, salt and pepper; rub the seasoning in. Place the beef on top of the vegetables.

Roast at 220°C for 50 minutes for a medium-rare beef, basting it halfway through with its own cooking juices, or adding a splash of water if it all looks on the dry side. When done, transfer the beef to a board to rest for about 15 minutes.

(Now, if you are pressed for time, you can also purchase quality roast beef slices from your favourite deli and just make the tuna sauce to go with them.)

Make the tuna sauce. Place the tuna, capers, anchovy fillets and egg yolks in a food processor. Blitz for about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice and blitz for another 10 seconds. While blitzing at the lowest speed, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream. At the end, the sauce should have a texture similar to mayonnaise.

To serve, slice the beef very finely – really, as thinly as possible; ideally with a slicer. Arrange the slices on a serving platter. Pour the sauce on top of the beef over the centre of the platter, leaving the edges uncovered. Serve cold or at room temperature.


tortellini in brodo

The Italian Christmas dish par excellence



Serves 8

For the broth:
600 g chicken
3 litres water
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 carrot, peeled
1 stick celery
1 potato, peeled
Fine grain sea salt

For the fresh pasta:
200 g plain flour, sifted
2 eggs

For the filling:
200 g pork loin, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
200 g thinly sliced prosciutto
200 g thinly sliced mortadella
100 g Parmigiano, grated
2 eggs
Freshly grated nutmeg


Place all the ingredients for the broth in a large pot and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Simmer for 2 hours, removing any foam forming on the surface. Allow the broth to cool slightly before filtering it through a sieve.

To make the pasta, make a well with the flour. Crack the eggs in the centre and, using a fork, beat them while incorporating more and more flour. Carry on kneading the dough until smooth and elastic. Wrap it in cling film and leave it to rest for 1 hour.

While the pasta rests, make the filling. Brown the pork loin in butter until coloured on all sides. Remove from the heat and mince finely together with the prosciutto and the mortadella. Combine the minced meat with the grated Parmigiano and the eggs. Season with fresh nutmeg.

Divide the pasta dough into three pieces and roll them out using a pasta machine, starting with the wider setting and moving on progressively to the very last. Spread the sheets of pasta over a flour working surface. Cut it out into 3-cm squares. On each square place a small amount of filling, about half a teaspoon. Fold the square onto itself to form a triangle, then fold it again so that the corners at the base come together to form a pocket.

Once you’ve closed all the tortellini, reheat the broth (taste it and add some salt if needed). When hot, add the tortellini. Cook them for about one minute. Serve them in piping hot broth with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.


Lasagne with Ragù

& Chicken Livers

A festive ever-green, enriched with extra flavour



Serves 8

For the meat ragù:
2 tablespoons butter
100 g thick-sliced pancetta, minced
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
400 g ground pork
400 g ground beef
150 ml dry white wine
60 ml tomato sauce
300 ml vegetable or beef stock, heated
350 g chicken livers, roughly chopped
Fine-grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the béchamel sauce:
150 g unsalted butter
150 g plain flour, sifted
1.5 litre milk
Freshly grated nutmeg

500 g fresh pasta sheets
Freshly grated Parmesan


Fry the pancetta in butter until crisp. Add the celery, carrot and onion and fry gently until softened, about 15 minutes. Add the pork and beef; season. Brown the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Once browned, add the wine and let it to evaporate while scraping the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the tomato sauce and stock, cover and cook the ragù over a very low heat for at least 2 hours. (Add a little bit of stock if you see it drying out). Half an hour prior to the end, add the chicken livers. Finish cooking the ragù, uncovered, stirring occasionally. (If the thought of chicken liver doesn’t sound too appealing, just leave them out: you could also replace it with crumbled sausage.)

For the béchamel, melt the butter in a large high-edged saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir it into the butter to form a paste. Pour the milk over the flour and butter mix in a thin stream, whisking all the while. Cook the béchamel until thickened, whisking all the while. Season with fresh nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a large rectangular lasagna pan with butter. Cover the bottom with a layer of béchamel. Top with pasta sheets, followed by a layer of ragù, then béchamel again, and finally grated Parmesan. Carry on in layers until you’ve reached the edge of the pan – there should be three layers at least – finishing off with a thick layer of béchamel and a liberal sprinkling of cheese.

Bake your lasagna for 30 minutes, or until deeply golden and crisp on top. Once done, allow it to rest and cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


Beef-Wrapped Cotechino

Tradition meets indulgence



Serves 6-8

1 x 800 g cotechino (Italian boiling sausage), not parboiled
1 x 450 g slice of beef rump, flattened
100 g thinly sliced prosciutto crudo
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bottle (75 cl) dry Lambrusco
Fine-grain sea salt

Serve with: braised lentils, mashed potatoes


Pierce the whole surface of the cotechino with a toothpick. Place the cotechino in a pot and cover it with cold water. Set on a very low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Carry on simmering for about 2 hours, covered.

Remove the cotechino from the water and cool slightly so as to be able to handle it. Gently remove the casing. Place the flattened beef rump (it should be wide and long enough to wrap the cotechino) over a working surface. Top it with the prosciutto, then place the cotechino on top. Wrap the cotechino with the meat and tie it with cooking twine.

Brown the cotechino in oil in a large pan. Pour in the wine. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for an hour, turning the cotechino halfway through. At the end, you should have nothing more than a thin layer of glistening cooking juices.

Free the cotechino from the twine, slice it, and serve it with some of its own gravy.



Your best partner to panettone



Serves 6

6 egg yolks, at room temperature
6 tablespoons caster sugar
90 ml Moscato Passito (or Sauternes)


In a small metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until airy and pale yellow. Add the wine and keep whisking until combined.

Set the bowl over a double boiler in which the water is barely simmering. Carry on whisking gently but steadily, always in the same direction, ensuring that the custard never boils (lift the bowl from the water and whisk quickly if you see it bubbling), until dense and creamy.

Next, place the bowl of zabaione over an ice bath and whisk until it has cooled to room temperature.

Pour it into a serving dish and serve with slices of toasted panettone.



A spiced sweet treat to close the meal



Makes 1

200 g plain flour, sifted
80 g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly-ground black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
100 g whole almonds
100 g candied citrus peel, chopped
100 g mild-tasting, runny honey
100 ml milk
200 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)


Preheat the oven to 150°C.

In a large bowl, combine flour with cocoa powder, spices, almonds and candied citrus peel. Add the honey and stir until combined. Then, add the milk and knead the dough until evenly combined.

Shape the dough into a slightly flattened dome and set it on top of a baking sheet lined with parchment.  

Bake the panpepato for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until it gives out a hollow sound when tapped. Move it to a rack set over the same baking sheet you used for baking it.

Melt the chocolate in a small pan set over a very low heat. Pour it on top of top of the cake, spreading it so that it coats the top and sides. Allow the panpepato to cool and the chocolate to harden completely before slicing and serving it.