‘Lesso’ Veronese meat bollito misto with peara and cren salsas

Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook The Venetian Republic

Known as lesso or bollito misto, this is another example of classic Northern Italian winter fare and is a personal favourite of mine. The Veronese version utilises particular condiments, including cren (freshly grated horseradish in salt and a little sugar) and peara (a bone marrow and bread sauce with black pepper). The quantity of black pepper is a subject of great conjecture and is completely at the discretion of the cook. With pepper being one of my favourite ingredients, I say be generous!

‘Lesso’ Veronese meat bollito misto with peara and cren salsas


PREP TIME 30 minutes (the salsa cren to be prepared 2 weeks in advance)

COOKING TIME 3 hours 30 minutes

1 onion, chopped into large pieces

2 carrots, chopped into large pieces

4 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces

2 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

1 veal shank

300 g (10½ oz) pork belly, bone-in

400 g (14 oz) cotechino sausage

½ capon/boiling chicken

Salsa cren

400 g (14 oz) horseradish

40 g (scant ¼ cup) sugar

2 teaspoons salt

500 ml (2 cups) white wine vinegar

Salsa peara

100 g (3½ oz) bone marrow

50 g (2 oz) butter

250–500 ml (1–2 cups) Beef or Veal stock (see below)

65 g (1 cup) dry breadcrumbs

Whole peppercorns, to taste

50 g (2 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the salsa cren, grate the horseradish into a mixing bowl, then stir in the sugar and salt. Place in an airtight sterilised jar, then pour the white wine vinegar over to cover. Seal the jar and leave for 2 weeks to marinate.

Place the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, veal shank, pork belly and cotechino sausage into a large stockpot and cover with 4 litres (16 cups) water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the excess fat from the top of the liquid throughout this cooking time. The cotechino will be quite salty, so check the cooking liquid after 30 minutes of cooking to see if it requires further seasoning (it shouldn’t).

After 1 hour, lift out the cotechino and place in a bowl with enough poaching liquid to cover it. Cook the meats and vegetables in the stockpot for another hour.

Add the capon to the stockpot and add more water if needed to cover the meats. Check the seasoning again and simmer again for 1 hour.

Return the cotechino to the stockpot, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

To make the salsa peara, place a small pan over low heat. Add the bone marrow and butter and allow to melt. Pour in the stock, stirring continuously, then mix in the breadcrumbs. Cook slowly for at least 1½ hours. Season with ground pepper, whole peppercorns and sea salt: the amount of pepper used is personal preference. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is also a great addition to salsa peara.

Slice the meat and serve with the vegetables and two salsas as condiments.


This recipe is really another version of nutrient-rich bone broth, often used to cook vegetables and legumes such as lentils. To increase the nutritional value of this dish, the braising liquid can be replaced with an unseasoned beef bone stock.

The cren recipe will make a lot more than is required for here. Store the remainder in an airtight container in the fridge: it will keep for a long time and can be used whenever horseradish is called for. It’s beautiful served with steak or oily fish, such as salmon and trout.

Beef broth

Makes approximately 2.5 litres (87 fl oz/10 cups)

2 kg (4 lb, 8 oz) beef bones and trimmings (see note)

2 tablespoons olive oil

100 g (3½ oz) onion, roughly chopped

100 g (3½ oz) carrot, roughly chopped

100 g (3½ oz) celery stalks, roughly chopped

40 g (1½ oz) garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

4 litres (140 fl oz/16 cups) water

2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

5 black peppercorns

2 thyme sprigs

2 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs


Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the beef bones and trimmings in a roasting tin and bake until nicely browned (approximately 1-1½ hours). Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy-based frying pan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until they are nicely browned.

Deglaze the roasting tin with some of the water, then add this with all the other ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and slowly simmer without a lid for 3-4 hours. Skim away the excess fat and other particles that come to the surface of the liquid throughout the cooking process. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer and refrigerate. If there is excess fat, it will solidify at the top of the refrigerated broth. Remove this with a spoon and discard before using the broth. Beef broth can be made in advance and frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Note: Replace the beef bones with veal bones to make veal stock.