Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BONES: Insalata di nervetti

Everybody knows how nutritious and beneficial is a bone broth. But besides that there are other ways to enjoy and take advantage of bones.
Here I want to talk about a very traditional Italian salad:  insalata di nervetti

It's a very Milanese dish, a common antipasto to be found in osterie or old style restaurants. You can still buy it in most delis but I do not think it is done according to tradition anymore or using ingredients that are desiderable.

It is done with bones from the knee and from the shank, both veal and beef can be used. Veal is milder in flavor and  requires a shorter cooking. How do I do it? I clean the bones in water. Having the time it's good to soak the bones in ice water with some salt to get rid of blood and impurities. But when I don't have time, I blanch the bones and start again with fresh water, when comes to a boil, I lower the flame and simmer for 2-3 hours  (more if you cook beef), adding more hot water if necessary to keep the bones covered. I also add at the last hour of cooking my aromatic vegetables (carrots, celery, onion, leek, bay leaf, parsley stalks and a drop of vinegar for acidity.

You need to check that the cartilages attached to the bones are nice and tender.

When the bones are still warm, I pick all the cartilages and pieces of meat attached and season with a little bit of salt.

 I pack them in a glass, cover with a little parchment paper disk and press it  by inserting a smaller  jar (with anything heavy inside) on top, but you can use any other container and anything you have handy to press down the cartilages and meat. I wrap everything well and refrigerate overnight.

This is what I get the day after.

I slice it very finely, here I cut it in rounds but you can have small strips, it doesn't matter. You slice very finely some sweet onion and add to your cartilages, dress the salad with very good wine vinegar and super extravirgin olive oil, some parsley and fleur de sel and milled pepper if you like it. It is really delicious!

And the marrow??? And the bone broth? Well, I have more tips and ideas with you to share!  


  1. I just love this recipe and hope I can find the proper bones to try it. I'm so curious about the differences if the foods available to you verses what we have available here. Can you just go to market and get bones n any day?

    1. Hi Patty! At my butcher, marrow bones are always available but I usually order veal bones from the knee a day in advance and ask to saw them for me.
      I can also order chicken carcasses for stock with little notice.

      Here there is a similar salad that is called salad de museau but it's done using the head. I think this is much more delicate.

  2. That's so wonderful Francesca! There's a butcher near us but the beef is all from feedlots, so it's not an option. But I'm going to have to work harder to find good local sources for bones. I did manage to get my hands on a 1/2 of a pig head and attempted headcheese. It was really good, just not very pretty. So I want to make it again one day soon. If you ever get the chance, I would love to see a post and photos about the markets where you shop!