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January 06, 2016
At first glance, Simone Fracassi displays something of a contradictory personality. A staunch traditionalist when it comes to his sourcing of locally-reared beef from nearby farms, he is also a true innovator of Italian food, producing delicious jarred sauces to an exceptional standard, long before many Italian food producers realised the benefits of increased convenience in the kitchen.
Using butchery skills passed down over four generations of the Fracassi family, Simone runs Macelleria Fracassi from Casentino, deep within the picturesque Apennine Mountains of Tuscany. This unassuming location belies its celebrated brand; Macelleria Fracassi was listed in the 2015 Gambero Rosso (Italy’s top-rated food and wine guide) as one of the country’s most outstanding producers of meat. Simone Fracassi is also listed as one of Italy’s top 20 butchers on the renowned Scatti Di Gusto website – no mean feat for a small rural business that comprises of just one single brick-and-mortar shop.
Simone Fracassi’s philosophy is simple: waste nothing, source locally and prioritise quality above all else. The former is taken care of by the butcher’s nose-to-tail ethos when it comes to cooking – no part of the animal goes to waste, and traditional recipes can be adapted and updated to include new ingredients, optimising flavour while creating innovative new dishes.
All of Macelleria Fracassi’s meat and vegetables are sourced locally, ensuring that Simone has a good working relationship with his suppliers and can personally evaluate the quality of his ingredients.
This eye for quality extends to only using free-range Chianina cattle to produce his sauces and meat products. Originally bred as a working animal, the Chianina – the largest and heaviest of cattle breeds – produces uniquely lean and tender beef that is also naturally low in cholesterol and easily digested.
This covetable combination is most commonly known for its use as Florentine steaks, a melt-in-the mouth cut that is both full of flavour and extremely tender. Working on the principle that “if the steaks are good, the whole animal is good”, Simone Fracassi set to work modifying the traditional recipes handed down by his mother and grandmother to incorporate different cuts of this prized beef, reducing waste and allowing for new uses of this delicious and highly versatile meat.
Nowhere does this innovation become more apparent than in Macelleria Fracassi’s Nero di Chianina – a beef pâté that’s absolutely perfect for making bite-sized crostini. Fracassi recommends using stale, unsalted bread, toasted then dipped in broth before topping with the Nero di Chianina for the perfect crowd-pleasing canapé.
For more recipe inspiration, take a look at our warming winter recipe using Fracassi’s Spezzatino di Chianina sauce, created by Hong Kong food blogger, Sharon Maloney.
Kate Farr is a co-founding writer and editor at Editors' Ink HK, a blogger at Accidental Tai-Tai and a mum to two little boys. With a husband who's an enthusiastic amateur cook and two young sons with big appetites to feed, mealtimes play a central role in Kate's home life. Motto: "Diet? What diet?' Follow her on Instagram.
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