Dining

Origin of a Meal

Chef Elise Wiggins entices diners to look beyond the prime cuts.

April 2010

Panzano chef Elise Wiggins is usually up to something. If she's not creating a gluten-free menu, she's revamping the downtown restaurant's happy hour. Now, she's at it again with the launch of Panzano's steer program. Wiggins partnered with Bear Mountain Ranch in Genesee (the facilities were designed by famed animal-welfare advocate Temple Grandin) to bring diners the freshest and most sustainable locally raised beef possible. And not only that, she's made it her delicious mission to use every last ounce of each 1,200-pound carcass. This means dreaming up dishes (listed as specials on the menu) that utilize the lesser-known cuts.

Boiled Tongue with deconstructed salsa verde. Sliced so thin it resembles carpaccio, the tongue—which is reminiscent of roast beef—is sprinkled with parsley, capers, sliced cornichons, diced egg, anchovies, and olive oil.

Fritto Anima (Fried Heart) After simmering the heart until tender in beef stock, Wiggins slices it, coats the pieces in seasoned flour, and fries them in butter with thyme. She then sets the rich, crispy morsels in a pool of sauce reduced from the pan juices, adding Marsala and mushrooms for heartiness.

Brisket Slow-braised in beef stock with a touch of vinegar, and accompanied by mashed potatoes, this is the ultimate in old-fashioned comfort food.

Braised Beef Shank Ravioli To fill the pasta, Wiggins pulls the braised meat and mixes it with potato purée; alternatively, she uses the shank in the Milanese classic osso buco.

Trippa alla Romana In traditional Roman style, Wiggins braises the mild and supple tripe (stomach) with tomato purée to make a stew, which she serves in a cup with grated Parmesan and a mint pesto-slathered crouton.

Fegato alla Veneziana The thinly sliced liver pan-fried with onions "should resemble bacon." It arrives atop fried polenta with a smear of pesto.

Grilled Kidneys with Anchovy Butter Sliced, sprigged with rosemary, wrapped with olive oil-brushed pancetta, grilled, and finally served with a ramekin of anchovy beurre fondue for dipping, these pungent bites call for the adventurous.

Oxtail Soup A simple, rustic bowl contains not only slow-braised oxtail but also tortellini, mirepoix, and a dollop of pesto.

Polpette The ground beef for Wiggins' signature Bolognese sauce, burgers, and meatballs comes from the hip (also known as the "round") and other scraps. Wiggins' meatballs are pink at the center, and are either served in spicy, pancetta-studded sugo all'amatriciana or as sliders on house-baked potato buns.

Bone Marrow with Parsley Salad Wiggins spoons the rich marrow onto crostini and tops it with a salad of parsley in shallot vinaigrette.

Steaks Galore Panzano's steaks—cowboy-cut rib-eyes, sirloins, porterhouses, skirt steaks, and flatirons—come from the rib, loin, plate, chuck, and flank. Wiggins reserves T-bones for bistecca alla Fiorentina with extra-virgin olive oil, arugula, chopped garlic, and shaved Parmesan.