Dinner Dish in Italy: What is Battuto?
The terms "soffritto" and "mirepoix" are often used in cooking -- in Italy and France, respectively -- but one of the lesser known terms is "battuto." Yet battuto is an important component of Italian cooking and, in many ways, it can be considered a cousin to the Italian soffritto. After all, the base of battuto, like soffritto, often begins with celery, onions, and carrots, which you can learn about in more depth during Italy cooking classes, such as with Chef Elisabetta in Colle Val d'Elsa.
So what makes battuto different from soffritto? Many use the terms interchangeably; after all, both act as a base for the Italian meal that you're about to create. Battuto is generally considered to be the uncooked version of the mixture, while soffritto is fried in grease or cooked in oil, but opinions on this vary.
Plus, battuto is often more flexible in its components. The word itself translates to "beaten" -- although the ingredients are often minced instead -- and the Italian word derives from battere that means "to strike," which refers to the way a chef's knife hits the board when mincing.
Plus, the ingredients in battuto vary, depending on which chef you talk to. Even the the trifecta of celery, onions, and carrots aren't always used, and that's why battuto can also describe "finely chopped aromatics," according to Serious Eats.
In addition to the common ingredients of carrots, onions, and celery, other aromatics often used include leeks, garlic, parsley, and other herbs. Another very important component to battuto is the addition of lard, olive oil, butter, pancetta, or other meats. But again, this varies depending on the dish, as well as the chef.
While battuto is rarely referenced in cookbooks anymore, it continues to be a very important part of many, many dishes throughout Italy, whether a chef, home cook, or grandmother is making it!
To discover more Italian culinary traditions, take part in one of our cooking vacations.
By Liz Hall
"Dinner dish" is a blog series, where The International Kitchen discusses recipes and the history of particular regional foods. Have a food you want to learn more about? Contact us today.
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