People around the world know Dario Cecchini, above, the celebrity butcher from Panzano in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico. He’s a Tuscan original and a Tuscan classic. A poet and reciter of poetry. A world-class, innovative butcher and a steadfast defender of Tuscan tradition.
What a lot of folks may not know is that if you stop by his stop in Panzano at lunchtime, you’ll be handed a small glass of Chianti and invited to help yourself to bread, salame, and rendered spiced lard to be spread over bread rounds (in the case above).
I told Dario that I was heading north the next day and that I wanted to buy something unusual to give as a gift to my colleague in Brescia.
He turned down the AC/DC that was blaring on the stereo (no joke) and suggested that I buy some “tonno del Chianti” or “Chianti tuna.”
It’s pig thigh, he told me, that’s been cooked like olive oil-cured tuna.
The next night when I gave it to Giovanni (who, together with Arianna, was hosting at his apartment for hamburgers and Franciacorta), Arianna told us that she had tasted the “tuna” previously at a high-concept charcuterie wine bar in Brescia province. And so she knew how to serve it.
She dressed it just like you would olive oil-cured tuna and plated with chickpeas and slivers of cipolle rosse di Tropea.
It was delicious and paired beautifully with a slice of crusty ciabatta and some artisanal beer that had been given to Giovanni.
I don’t really know Cecchini other than the few times I’ve stopped by his butcher shop. But it’s been amazing to follow his career as he continues to riff on Tuscan tradition.
And wow, who knew that AC/DC paired so well with a glass of Sangiovese and some spicy rendered lard?