Cooking Tongue and Ox Tail, Maremma style.

Joey Skee (February 02, 2013)
With chef Valerio De Donatis in Elko.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has a whole lot more going on than recited verse. It is a week-long festival that also includes music, videos, craft workshops (rawhide braiding and cinchmaking, to name but two), lectures, and an exhibition. On January 29th, Italian chef Valerio De Donatis held a workshop entitled “Italian Cow Country Cooking” for approximately 25 participants. Accompanying De Donatis was folklorist Luisa Del Giudice who served as an interpreter for the Italian-speaking chef and about regional Italian foodways. 

De Donatis is the chef at the resort hotel Tenuta dell’Argento in Civitavecchia (Rome province) in Lazio where local dishes are prepared with meats from the area.

On Tuesday at the Presbyterian Church’s kitchen, De Donatis cooked two dishes from the butteri tradition: coda alla vaccinara (oxtail in a tomato sauce) and lingua salmistrata (cold beef tongue). The chef explained that these were parts of the animals that historically did not sell in the market, while Del Giudice commented now these very rustic dishes have become all the craze for foodies.

Audience members—some of whom were familiar with oxtail and tongue meals from their Basque-American family members and neighbors—took copious notes of the ingredients and recipes.

On February 2nd, De Donatis will lead a second workshop, demonstrating his signature dish: acquacotta, a buttero staple made from vegetables, eggs, pork, and pecorino cheese.