The reason is that I’m a vegetarian but, nonetheless, we have quite a few unique meat dishes in this region which are worth to be mentioned to be fair to meat eaters too.
Just a few days ago, as I was walking by the meat counter at the supermarket, I saw what perhaps is the most typical Ligurian meat preparation: Cima alla Ligure. I purposedly call it a preparation rather than a dish because it takes a very long time to make but it can be kept in the fridge for quite some time after or it can even be frozen for a later consumption as it’s a sort of cold cut.
In deli shops in Italy you can find many local and national specialties
Made from a so-called ‘pocket’, which is actually a veal stomach, Cima is quite an elaborate recipe.
This is perhaps why this dish is usually prepared for Christmas and other special occasions although one can easily find it at one of the many deli shops around Genova.
So, what is in the filling of this ‘pocket’? The recipe varies because one can use different types of offal such as interiors, guts, testicles and also brains, which are thinly minced and added as a stuffing.
It’s obviously a countrymen recipe, created at a time when people used anything they could find to make meals but, surprisingly, Cima now symbolizes prosperity as few people in modern days prepare it at home (it’s also not that easy to find offal at the butcher’s now) and most people who have this delicacy on their tables buy it at one of the very pricey deli shops around town.
Cima is therefore abundance: abundance of ingredients first of all.
The thinly minced offal is mixed in a bowl with zucchini, artichokes, lettuce and some minced cold cut like mozzarella and ham. The traditional recipe also calls for a whole hardboiled egg in the middle of the ‘pocket’.
This mixture is flavored with laurel leaves, onion, celery nutmeg, garlic, marjoram, pine nuts and grated parmesan cheese and then added to the pocket, previously sewn together using cooking thread.
It is boiled for over two hours and, once cooked, it is cut into thin slices and served cold.
It becomes like a sort of thick cold cut and this is why it’s easier to buy it already made and sliced from the deli shop.
Another typical meat dish in Liguria is rabbit.
Rabbit meat is quite popular in Italy and Coniglio alla Ligure (Ligurian style rabbit) is a well-known dish also outside the borders of our region.
There is no inn in the Ligurian hinterland which does not serve this specialty and this is an all time favorite for Sunday lunches.
It is game meat and there are a lot of wild rabbits (hares) in the Ligurian woods.
Although the recipe originally called for hare meat, a newer version of the recipe simply calls for rabbit meat and nowadays farmed rabbit meat is used too.
It’s a popular dish to be eaten during the Fall time at some local hinterland restaurant where some hunters still bring in game such as hare, deer and wild boar.
Usually served with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables, the Ligurian style rabbit is slowly cooked in a terracotta pot in a sort of broth.
It is slowly cooked and braised using white wine and many are the local ingredients added to the recipe: laurel, thyme, rosemary, the ever present pine nuts, black olives and chopped carrots.
Coniglio alla Ligure