Chef Chris Behr was born to write Carne: Meat Recipes from the American Academy in Rome, the fifth title in a very awesome but little-known series– if you don’t already own Biscotti, Zuppe, Pasta, and Verdure, put them on your holiday wish list immediately. I have never known anyone who loves meat more than my dear friend Chris. And there is certainly no chef in Rome more skilled at butchery nor any cook more dedicated to working with whole animals than he is. No one even comes close.
Chris, a New Jersey native and veteran of Italy-inspired kitchens in NYC and San Francisco (A16, SPQR, Pulino’s, Franny’s and Brooklyn Larder among them), came to Rome five years ago to work at the Rome Sustainable Food Project* at the American Academy in Rome and now helms the program. As head chef, he oversees a robust kitchen internship program and a garden while forging relationships with local farmers to bring the finest quality seasonal and organic ingredients to the RSFP table. True to the “Sustainable” aspect of the RSFP’s philosophy, Chris only works with small farms and whole animals, building daily menus with small portions of meat balanced by abundant fruits, vegetables, and pulses.
In Carne, Chris shares dishes and stories from the RSFP, as well as a wealth of roasted, cured and brined meat recipes developed during his illustrious meat-centric career. Some of my favorites include Polpettone Ripieno (stuffed meatloaf, page 121), Abbacchio alla Romana (roasted suckling lamb, page 69), and Pollo alla Romana (chicken stewed with tomatoes and bell peppers, page 83), each flavorful and simple to recreate with accessible incredients.
The book, beautifully photographed by Annie Schlechte, is divided into thematic chapters–Beef & Veal; Pork; Lamb; Poultry; Rabbit; Cured; Ground & Brined; Side Dishes; Basics–each featuring recipes that appear on the Rome Sustainable Food Project table throughout the year. In a thoughtful forward author Tamar Adler tackles the complex discussion of meat as it pertains to sustainability.
Carne also offers more than a dozen recipes for contorni (vegetable side dishes), that the RSFP serves alongside meat entrées: radicchio salad; sweet and sour squash, pickled green tomatoes, Chris’s legendary roasted potatoes that are crisp and golden on the outside with the creamy consistency of mashed potatoes on the inside, and (my favorite) puntarelle with anchovy and mozzarella.
Happy to announce the first stop on the CARNE book tour! Join me and Chef @lgvmorse at @vinotecawinefood in Marylebone, London on Sunday December 4th for a meaty Roman lunch, featuring recipes from the book! £30 per person, begins at 1pm. Cookbooks will be available for sale. Reserve your place now at +44 20 7724 7288 @rsfp_kitchen @amacademyrome @faberbooks ?: @annieschlechter
You can catch Chris on book tour in London early next month. He will be hosting a takeover at Vinoteca in Marylebone on Sunday December 4 from 1-4pm. Cookbooks will be available for sale. Tickets here. On Monday December 5, Chris will present his book at River Cafe from 5-6:30pm. No reservations, free to walk-in. The book talk and signing will be accompanied by snacks from the book and wine. On Wednesday December 7 from 6:30-8:30pm, there will be a Carne dinner at Rochelle Canteen.
*The Rome Sustainable Food Project is a joint venture between the AAR and Alice Waters that uses fresh, seasonal, organic products to create nourishing meals for the Academy’s fellows and visiting scholars (and their lucky invited guests). The kitchen draws on produce and herbs from their biodynamic garden and local like-minded producers like Giovanni Bernabei; they recycle, compost, and embrace the principles of sustainability. Without a doubt, this is Rome’s most inspired kitchen.