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A legend steeped in flavor

September 20, 2006|Dario Cecchini

LEGEND has it that a Tuscan, traveling in the north, ordered an oven-baked veal shank and, finding it quite good, set about improving it.

Starting with a shank of boned beef (as he didn't care for the virginal pallor of veal), he removed the marrow from the bone and recomposed the meat with the marrow inside, adding sea salt, crushed black pepper and rosa di mare (what we today call "rosemary").

He cooked it with shallots and olive oil in a covered casserole. Then, somewhat alarmed by the delicious carnality of the result, he "blessed" it with Vino Xantos(vin santo or holy wine).

The sheer pleasure provoked by eating this dish was such that for centuries it was forbidden to virgins under the age of 20.

This ban fell into disuse with the passage of time as it became more difficult to find them (virgins, that is).

Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. You need olive oil and 1 kilogram of peeled shallots. Add half a glass of vin santo after 90 minutes. Cook for three hours in all.

And that is that.

-- Dario Cecchini

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