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How to make pearà, a traditional sauce from the Veneto area

A classic Veneto traditional recipe: the Pearà. Particularly appreciated in the area around Verona, its name in the Veneto dialect means “peppered”. The sauce does indeed contain a lot of pepper, is used to accompany meat and is served piping hot.

The pearà is a typical Veneto recipe based on remote peasant tradition. It is a boldly full-blooded sauce in taste and consistency, made mainly from breadcrumbs, beef marrow, butter, meat broth and abundant pepper.

Some pearà recipes indicate the use of parmigiano reggiano or grana padano as an ulterior ingredient, to be added after cooking. However, the most authentic pearà does not contain cheese. Because cheese was not used in the original recipe, which involved only the use of “poor” ingredients, without high prestige cheeses such as parmesan or grana.

This sauce is not difficult to prepare, but it does require patience: the slow cooking process takes at least 2 or 3 hours. But the wait is worth it, especially if you are fond of meat-based dishes, because pearà is traditionally used to accompany assorted meats that have been boiled to make meat broth.

Pearà alla Veronese: a sauce with a legendary taste

The origins of this key element in Veneto cookery are not documented. However, one legend traces it back to the Longobard era. The legend says it was invented by the chief cook at the court of Alboin, the King of the Longobards when they first invaded northern Italy. The cook’s desire was create a dish to revive Queen Rosamund from her grief after the murder of her royal father. Whatever about the legend, it is certain that many centuries ago the pearà, eaten with boiled meat, was an important part of the diet of poor families.

In much more recent times, in the second half of the 19th century, when the Veneto Region was impoverished after the creation of The Kingdom of Italy, boiled meats with pearà sauce became part of local aristocratic culinary tradition, and thus spread through all levels of society. Where it remains to this day, especially in the Sunday lunches and Christmas meals of countless families around Verona.

The Pearà Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Stale bread, for grating: 400/ 500 g
  • Beef marrow: 100 g
  • 1 liter of beef and/or chicken broth
  • Black pepper: two or three teaspoons (don’t worry about overdoing it: pearà is eaten with boiled meats, which have a “sweet” taste)
  • 100 gr olive oil (roughly one third of a common drinking glass)
  • Salt (not included in the original recipe)
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese: a couple of tablespoons (not included in the original recipe)

Preparation:

Bring the broth to the boil and add bones containing beef marrow. Extract the bone marrow with the help of a knife or a small spoon. Finely grate the stale bread and then sieve it. Grate the cheese… if you have decided to use it. Place a large terracotta pot on a small burner at low heat and dissolve the bone marrow in 40 grams of oil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Pour in the grated breadcrumbs and a generous amount of black pepper. Add the boiling broth and stir until a creamy consistency is obtained. Now bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to minimum. Pour the remaining oil on top, slowly and in circles, so that it acts as a kind of surface cover. Leave the mixture to cool for at least two hours, without a cover. When the cooking is finished, if you wish to, add the grated cheese and stir well. Then adjust salt and pepper levels according to your taste.

The pearà should be strongly peppered, quite dense, very homogeneous, and served hot. As well as traditional broth-making meats like beef, hen or chicken, cotechino sausage also makes for a great taste. A sauce that undeniably offers a full-bodied and bracing dish with boiled meats, ideal for warming you on a cold winter day. Try it, and see!

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