This Italian region comprises the historical areas of Emilia and Romagna. Half the territory is formed by the Apennines and the other half is a large plain, which reaches east to the Adriatic Sea. The coastline is flat and sandy with lagoons and marshy areas.
Emilia-Romagna is one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in Europe, with the third highest GDP per capita in Italy. Bologna, its capital, has one of Italy’s highest quality of life standards. Emilia-Romagna is also a cultural and tourist center, being the home of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the world. Its cuisine is renowned and it is home to the automotive companies of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, De Tomaso and Ducati.
Popular coastal resorts such as Rimini and Riccione are located in this region. Other important cities include Parma, Ferrara, Modena, Piacenza, Ravenna, Forlì and Reggio Emilia.
Despite being an industrial power, Emilia-Romagna is also a leading region in agriculture, with farming contributing 5.8% of the region’s agricultural products. Cereals, potatoes, corn, tomatoes and onions are the most important products, along with fruit and grapes for the production of wine (of which the best known are Emilia’s Lambrusco, Bologna’s Pignoletto, Romagna’s Sangiovese and white Albana). Cattle and hog breeding are also highly developed.
Tourism is increasingly important, especially along the Adriatic coastline and the art museum cities. Since 187 B.C., when the Romans built the 125-Mile Roman Road/Via Emilia, this thoroughfare has taken travelers throughout the region and connected them with the major trading centers of Venice, Genoa and central/northern Europe. This main roadway crosses the region from north-west (Piacenza) to the south-east (Adriatic coast), connecting the main cities of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and the Adriatic coast.
Emilia-Romagna gave birth to two great musicians, one of the most important composers of music, Giuseppe Verdi and Toscanini, the famous conductor. Marcella Hazan, one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine, was born in 1924 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. Her cookbooks are credited with introducing the public in the United States and Britain to the techniques of traditional Italian cooking. She moved to New York City following her marriage to Victor Hazan and published her first book, The Classic Italian Cook Book, in 1973.
The most popular sport in Emilia-Romagna is football. Several famous clubs from Emilia-Romagna compete at a high level on the national stage: Cesena, Parma and Sassuolo. With 13 professional clubs in 2013, the region is only bettered in terms of a number of professional clubs by Lombardy. It also has 747 amateur clubs, 1,522 football pitches and 75,328 registered players. Another sport which is very popular in this region is basketball and teams from Emilia-Romagna compete in the Lega Basket Serie A. Zebre rugby club competes professionally in the Guinness Pro 12 league. The club’s home ground is located in Parma.
Take a tour of Emilia-Romagna with the video below.
The Cuisine of Emilia-Romagna
The celebrated balsamic vinegar is made in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, following legally binding traditional procedures. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese) is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna, while Grana Padano is produced in the rest of the region. Prosciutto di Parma is Italy’s most popular ham, especially beyond Italy where it’s widely exported. With its roots going back to 100 BC, when a salt-cured ham was mentioned in the writings of Cato, Prosciutto has a long and hallowed history in the Parma province.
Antipasto is optional before the first course of a traditional meal and may feature anything from greens with prosciutto and balsamic vinegar to pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar. Pasta is often the first course and Emilia-Romagna is known for its egg and filled pastas, such as tortellini, lasagna and tagliatelle. In some areas of Romagna rice is eaten, with risotto taking the place of pasta. Polenta, a cornmeal-based dish, is common both in Emilia and Romagna.
Seafood, poultry and meats comprise the second course. Although the Adriatic coast is a major fishing area (well-known for its eels and clams), the region is more famous for its meat products, especially pork-based, that include: Parma’s prosciutto, culatello and Felino salami, Piacenza’s pancetta, coppa and salami, Bologna’s mortadella and salame rosa, Modena’s zampone, cotechino and cappello del prete and Ferrara’s salama da sugo. Reggio Emilia is famous for erbazzone, a spinach and Parmigiano Reggiano pie and Gnocco Fritto, flour strips fried in boiling oil and eaten in combination with ham or salami.
From grilled asparagus with Parma ham to basil/onion mashed potatoes or roasted beets and onions, vegetables play a major role in Emilia-Romagna side dishes. Residents boil, sauté, braise, bake or grill radicchio and other tart greens. They also serve a cornucopia of other vegetables, including sweet fennel, wild mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, chard, sweet squashes, cabbage, eggplant, green beans and asparagus.
Sweet pastas may be a dessert or a side dish. Rich tortes, almond and apple cream tarts, sweet ravioli with winter fruit and strawberries & red wine often find their way to the table. Regional desserts include zuppa inglese (custard-based dessert made with sponge cake and Alchermes liqueur) and panpepato (Christmas cake made with pepper, chocolate, spices, and almonds).
Some differences do exist in the cuisines of Emilia and Romagna. Located between Florence and Venice and south of Milan, Emilia has lush plains, gentle hills and a cuisine that demonstrates more Northern Italian influences and capitalizes on the region’s ample supply of butter, cream and meat that is usually poached or braised. The Romagna area includes the Adriatic coast, part of the Ferrara province and the rugged mountain ranges. Food preferences follow those found in central Italy, with olive oil used as a base for many dishes, plenty of herbs and a preference for spit roasting and griddle baking.
TRADITIONAL RECIPES OF EMILIA-ROMAGNA
PUMPKIN RAVIOLI (CAPPELLACCI)
FOR THE PASTA
- 10 oz all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- Pinch of salt
FOR THE FILLING
- 2 lbs pumpkin, baked and the flesh scooped out
- 7 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Nutmeg to taste
- 2 oz butter
- Salt to taste
- 1 egg
For the pasta:
Mix the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined.
Roll out into thin sheets on a pasta machine and cut into squares, about 2.5 inches a side.
For the filling:
Mix the baked pumpkin pulp with the egg, the grated cheese and the nutmeg.
Put the filling on half the squares of pasta and top with another square. Press the edges with a fork to seal.
Cook them in abundant salted water and season with melted butter, sage and grated cheese.
BEEF FILLET WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR SAUCE
- 1 ¾ lb beef fillet
- 1 ½ ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for coating the meat
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- Salt to taste
- Chopped parsley for garnish
Cut the fillet into four equal slices and flatten slightly with a meat pounder. Coat the meat in flour and shake to remove any excess. Put the fillets on a greased plate, then salt them.
Heat a large skillet and cook the fillets on both sides over very high heat, sprinkling each with some of the balsamic vinegar.
In a separate saucepan, combine the remaining vinegar, the beef broth and the flour. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
When the fillets are cooked, cover them with the sauce and garnish with parsley.
ERBAZZONE (SAVORY GREENS PIE)
This pie is often served with slices of prosciutto.
- 2 lbs spinach
- 7 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 1 oz olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 oz pancetta, chopped fine
- 1 ¾ oz butter
- 3 ½ oz lard
- 1/2 onion, about 2/3 cup
- 1 clove of garlic
- Box frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cook the spinach in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well and chop the spinach. Squeeze well to dry.
Sauté butter, lard and onion in a skillet. Add the spinach and garlic and cook for five minutes. Cool. Then, mix with some grated Parmesan, the olive oil, pepper and salt.
Lay one sheet of pastry in a rectangular oven-dish (about the size of the pastry sheet; cut to fit, if needed). Spread the filling over the dough. Dot the top of the filling with the pancetta. Cover with the second pastry sheet. Press down lightly.
Bake at 350°F until the pastry is golden, about 30 minutes.
Serve hot or warm.
CIAMBELLA (RING CAKE)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Grated zest of 1/2 a medium orange
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- Powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch ring mold or a springform pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.
Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Parmigiano Reggiano, Tortellini, Bolognese Sauce and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena are all famous foods of this region. A vast, wealthy region located in northern Italy, Emilia-Romagna is rich in meats and pastas. The craft of curing meat is held in high esteem here — Italy’s best known meat product, Prosciutto di Parma, is created in Emilia, as is the “king of cheeses,” Parmigiano Reggiano.
The richness and complexity of first and second courses served in this region balance each other out, with one being richer and having more complex flavors than the other. Emilia-Romagna meals layer flavors, with pastas that range from tagliatelle (golden egg pasta) to tortelli (stuffed pasta), to tortelloni (larger) and spinach pasta. Antipasto is optional before the first course of a traditional meal and may feature anything from greens with prosciutto and balsamic vinegar or pears with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar.
Pasta is often the first course, including lasagna and cannelloni. Risotto dishes or soups – such as tomato & cauliflower or fresh spinach are popular. Sauces based on prosciutto, or fresh mushrooms may dress tagliatelle, however, tomato sauces are the favorite pasta topper in this region. The famous meat sauce typical of the Bologna area, known in Italy as Ragu, is usually referred to as, Bolognese Sauce. On restaurant menus, one can usually this sauce served over spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.
Seafood, poultry and meats comprise the second course. Chicken is the most popular meat: from pan–crispy chicken with rosemary, to chicken cacciatore over polenta or potatoes and capon at Christmas. Residents throughout the region eat rabbit and serve more pork than beef, such as pork tenderloin with marsala sauce. Along the Adriatic coast, in Romagna, seafood appears frequently in dishes, such as, clams with balsamic vinegar.
From grilled asparagus and Parma ham salad to basil and onion mashed potatoes to roasted beets and onions, vegetables play a major role in Emilia-Romagna side dishes. Residents boil, sauté, braise, bake or grill radicchio and other tart greens. They also serve a variety of other vegetables, including sweet fennel, wild mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, onions, chard, sweet squashes, cabbage, eggplant, green beans and asparagus.
Sweet pastas may be a dessert or a side dish. Rich, decadent tortes, almond and apple cream tarts, sweet ravioli with winter fruit and strawberries in red wine, often find their way to the table. More contemporary offerings include semifreddos, with a texture somewhere between soft serve ice cream and frozen mousse and a sorbet made with Muscat wine. Fresh chestnuts also appear in many desserts, especially at Christmastime.
Some differences do exist in the cuisine between Emilia and Romagna. Located between Florence and Venice and south of Milan, Emilia’s cuisine demonstrates more northern Italian influences and capitalizes on the region’s supply of butter, cream and meat that is usually poached or braised. The Romagna area includes the Adriatic coast, part of Ferrara province and rugged mountain ranges. Food preferences follow those found in central Italy, more closely, with olive oil used as a base for many dishes with plenty of herbs and a preference for spit roasting and griddle baking.
Homemade Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- 1 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
- 3/4 cups finely chopped carrot
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 1/2 pounds spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
- 3/4 pound ground pork
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 3/4 cups tomato paste (about 7 1/2 ounces)
- Homemade Pappardelle (see recipe below)
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for passing
Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the next 4 ingredients. Sauté until vegetables are soft but not brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Add beef, sausage, pork and pancetta. Increase heat to high. Cook until meat is brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk, wine and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until sauce is thick and juices are reduced, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in very large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to the same pot. Add enough warm Bolognese sauce to coat pasta and 1 cup cheese. Toss over medium heat until heated through, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls, if dry. Adjust seasoning.
Makes about 2 1/2 Pounds
- 5 cups all purpose flour, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 6 large eggs, divided
- 6 large egg yolks, divided
- 6 tablespoons (or more) water, divided
Make pasta in two batches. Place 2 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Whisk 3 eggs, 3 yolks and 3 tablespoons water in a bowl. With machine running, pour egg mixture through the feed tube. Blend until a sticky dough forms, adding additional water by teaspoonfuls, if dry.
Scrape dough out onto floured work surface. Knead dough until smooth and no longer sticky, sprinkling lightly with flour, as needed, if sticky, about 8 minutes. Shape into ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 45 minutes. Repeat with remaining flour, salt, eggs, yolks and water.
Divide each dough ball into 4 pieces. Cover dough with plastic wrap.
Set pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece into a 3-inch-wide rectangle. Run through the pasta machine 5 times, dusting lightly with flour, if sticking. Continue to run dough piece through machine, adjusting to the next-narrower setting after every 5 passes, until dough is about 26 inches long. Cut crosswise into 3 equal pieces. Run each piece through the machine, adjusting to the next-narrower setting, until strip is a scant 1/16 inch thick and 14 to 16 inches long. Return machine to the original setting for each piece. Arrange strips in a single layer on sheets of parchment.
Repeat with remaining dough. Let strips stand until slightly dry to touch, 20 to 30 minutes. Fold strips in half so short ends meet, then fold in half again. Cut strips into 2/3-inch-wide pappardelle.
Pork Loin with Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 1/2 pound boneless pork loin
- Butcher’s twine
- A medium onion
- Sprig of rosemary
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- A sprig of fresh marjoram
- A small bunch of parsley
- A small bunch of chives
- A sprig of thyme
- 1/2 cup beef broth or unsalted bouillon
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
Tie the pork loin with butcher’s twine, so it will keep its shape as it cooks.
Peel the onion and chop it with the rosemary, marjoram, parsley, chives and thyme.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof pot and brown the meat on all sides. Turn the burner off.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the onion mixture, sauté for a minute or two and then let the mixture cool. Distribute it over the pork loin and add the broth..
Place the pork in the oven and roast the meat for an hour, spooning the pan drippings over it occasionally. Remove it to a cutting board and cover with foil.
Stir the cream and the vinegar into the roasting pan drippings and reduce the sauce briefly. Slice the meat, putting the slices on a warmed serving platter.
Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed thoroughly, water still clinging to the leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Melt the butter in a deep 14-inch sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the spinach by the handful to the hot pan and cook until it is wilted and there is no liquid left in the pan, about 5 minutes, stirring often. It may seem like all the spinach won’t fit at first, but as it wilts, it will shrink to fit.
Season the spinach with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook 15 more minutes, stirring once in a while. Add the Parmigiano and stir until it is melted through. Cook 5 minutes more and serve hot.
Chocolate Almond Torte
- 3 oz. butter
- 5 oz. sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1/2 lb dark chocolate
- 3 ½ oz. almonds, skinned and toasted
- 3 tablespoons espresso coffee powder
- 1/2 cup dark rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 2-inch springform pan with cooking spray, dust with cocoa, tapping out the excess and fit a sheet of parchment paper in the base of the pan. Butter the paper. Set the pan aside.
Melt the dark chocolate with the butter in a double boiler pan.
Whisk the egg yolks with sugar until creamy.
Finely chop the toasted almonds and add them to the egg mixture; add the coffee, rum, melted butter and chocolate. Mix well.
Whip the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center is slightly damp.
Remove the pan from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Cool completely.
Carefully run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan and release the spring. Remove the pan sides.
Place the cake on a serving dish. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small sieve and dust the top of the cake.
Cut into thin wedges to serve.
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The art of preserving pork in Umbria, dates back to the 2nd century BC. Because of the poor farming conditions in this cold mountainous area, the inhabitants of Norcia (in the Province of Perugia) relied on animal husbandry. This art was perfected under the Roman Republic and Roman Empire and continued to thrive under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church State until modern times. The meticulous selection of livestock, the expert dry or humid curing, the distinct and diverse flavoring, the personal care and attention by specialists of this art, all contribute to the production of these unique delicacies.
Umbrian cured ham, Prosciutto di Norcia, is the king of Umbrian delicacies. The most famous of central Italian ham is unmatched in quality and taste. The prosciutto is made of salted and naturally aged meat from the hindquarters of heavy mature animals. A Prosciutto di Norcia will generally weigh at least 20 pounds ( 9 kilos). The animals are raised in the high mountain ranges above sea level in the Valnerina district. The calciferous rock, of which the mountains are mostly made, filter rain water to create natural cellars with perfect conditions for the slow aging process (14 months or more) resulting in top quality cured meats. Prosciutto di Norcia is savory but not salty and each slice presents a variety of shades of garnet. The unique nutty taste of this ham is a perfect companion to a side dish of Mediterranean fruits or grilled asparagus.
Also known as lonza, ossocollo, capicollo, coppa. Capocollo is the famous Italian sandwich meat, characterized by its tenderness and aromatic flavor. Umbrian capocollo is made from prime cuts of pork neck, which is salted and flavored with fennel, garlic, salt and black pepper and cured in a red wine brine. The craft of capocollo preparation includes storage in fresh cellars where the capocollo is massaged by hand for at least 30 days. The capocollo is bound with natural string and allowed to air-dry. It is then wrapped in brown-paper and hung for 45-50 days at a temperature around 50 degrees F (10°C). A slice of Umbrian capocollo is compact and has a savory but slightly sweet taste which improves with age and adds refinement to any appetizer. Also delicious in a cold main course of arugula salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and wedges of pecorino.
This soft sausage has a strong and assertive flavor. It is made with shoulder and bacon meat, which is repeatedly minced to obtain a creamy texture. It is stuffed in natural gut casing and allowed to air-dry for 2 weeks. Delicious when spread on a slice of crusty Italian bread and accompanied with slivers of green apple or grapes and a little honey.
These spicy, pear-shaped sausages are characterized by their small size and intense flavor. They are made from coarsely ground lean pork, seasoned with black pepper and garlic. The fiaschetta are dry-cured in rooms heated with a natural log fire for 40-50 days.The spiciness of this salami is a perfect balance for delicate, close textured Umbrian bread. It is also popular as an addition to a rustic meat-based risotto.
The original and most famous of Umbrian salami is made from the best cuts of pork following a traditional and age-old recipe. The meat is expertly hand-cut to obtain the correct balance of meat and fat. It is flavored with whole and crushed black peppercorns, garlic and salt, hand-tied and aged for up to 40 days.This authentic delicacy can be served as an appetizer with grilled vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
Meat taken from the cheeks of the pig are cured in a red-wine based brine for 20 days. It is subsequently hung for 10 days in a room where a wood-fire maintains a steady temperature that encourages the curing process. It is then seasoned with either crushed chillies, fennel or black pepper and left to mature in a cool room for 45-50 days. The guanciale is mostly a soft-white color with a ribbon of pink running through it. It has a variety of uses – for basting roast meats, to adding flavor to gravy, as a topping for minestrone or polenta or as wafer-thin slices placed over bruschetta or freshly baked bread.
A speciality made from pork belly. When making pancetta, some of the fat is removed and replaced with crushed chillies, fennel, black pepper and sea salt. The pancetta is rolled, tied with jute and pressed between planks of wood. It is stored in a cool place for approximately one month and as the curing progresses, the planks of wood are tightened to compact the layers. The finished product is dense and when cut appears as pink and white spirals. The taste is spicy but delicate. The flavor of pancetta lends itself to goat cheese, black olives, peas and other legumes. It can be used as an alternative for bacon in classic pasta dishes such as pasta alla carbonara, pasta all’amatriciana and pasta alla carrettiera.
Coppa di testa
Hand-cut meat from the head of the pig, seasoned with garlic, black pepper and salt and steamed in a jute bag. This cooked salami has a marbled terrine-like appearance with a delicate aromatic taste. It can be served in thin slices with arugula and mature pecorino or with fried eggs. Goes well with a glass of robust red wine.
Recipes Using Italian Cured Pork
Frittata with Prosciutto, Potatoes, Goat Cheese & Thyme
- 12 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 ounces arugula
- 1 russet potato (about 8 oz), peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1/2 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (or cheese of choice)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Put the sliced potatoes in a bowl and cover them with cold water to keep them from turning brown.
Slice the onion and saute in the olive oil until soft and translucent.
Oil a 9×12 baking dish and place an overlapping layer of potato slices on the bottom of the dish (you will use about half of the potatoes). Spread the cooked onions and the prosciutto on top of the potatoes. Next a layer of arugula and top with crumbled goat cheese and half of the thyme.
Whisk together the eggs and milk and gently pour over the layers in the pan. Top with the remaining slices of potato and sprinkle remaining fresh thyme on top.
Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Removing the foil and bake 5-10 minutes until the eggs are set. Turn the oven setting to broil and brown the top of the frittata.
Lentil Soup and Ciauscolo
- 12 slices Ciauscolo salami
- 2 1/4 cups lentils
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, whole
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 3 potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put the lentils in water and let stand overnight.
Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Into a saucepan pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic cloves and chopped shallots. Add the potatoes and let cook for 5 minutes.
Drain lentils and put into the pot. Stir, cover with cold water, add the rosemary, bay leaves and salt and cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally to see if the lentils are soft. The soup should be quite liquid, so it may be necessary to add a few tablespoons of water. When cooked, remove the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves and keep warm.
Take the slices of Ciauscolo and sear them quickly on both sides on a stove top grill.
Pour the lentil soup into bowls and place the Ciauscolo slices on top. Add freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crusty Italian bread.
Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
- 1 pound small brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved through root ends
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 pound 1/8-inch-thick slices pancetta cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide strips
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
Cook brussels sprouts in a saucepan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté pancetta until crisp. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.
Add warm brussels sprouts to the skillet; sprinkle with thyme and sage. Sauté over high heat just until heated through and vegetables begin to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
- 6 oz finely minced guanciale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion (about 1 large onion)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon minced pepperoncini or other dried hot peppers
- 2 28-oz cans tomato purée
- 1 lb dry spaghetti
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until the oil ripples but does not smoke. Add guanciale and cook, stirring frequently, until the fat begins to render and meat is no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
Add onion and stir, coating onions with the rendered fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and pepperoncini and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more.
Add the tomato purée, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and gently simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until it reduces and thickens slightly, about 40 minutes. At this point the sauce can be used immediately, or cooled and refrigerated for up to a week or cooled and frozen.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain but don’t rinse, return spaghetti to the hot pot and toss with the sauce.
Pizza with Mozzarella and Capocollo
1 pound of pizza dough
- Fine sea salt
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes
- 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 pound thinly sliced capocollo
Heat pizza stone in the oven for at least 45 minutes before assembling pies. Place the stone on a rack in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to maximum temperature (500º to 550º). While stone is heating prepare topping.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add tomatoes to the boiling water; boil for 20 seconds. Drain tomatoes, then peel, quarter, seed and coarsely chop.
Meanwhile, place onion slices in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes, then drain. Repeat 2 or 3 times while you prepare the rest of the topping (soaking raw onion in cold water mellows the harsh taste).
Rinse and dry leek. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leek and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and sugar; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until sauce is blended and thickened, about 4 minutes more. Transfer sauce to a bowl.
Spread dough in a greased pizza pan. Working quickly, spread sauce over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border. Tear the cheese into pieces and arrange on top of the sauce. Drizzle lightly with oil. Place pizza pan on the stone. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling in spots and the edge of the crust is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.
Remove pizza from the oven and top with capocollo and red onion.
- Pork Fest! (recollectionsoffood.wordpress.com)
- Affettati misti (Mixed Cured Meats) (memoriediangelina.com)
While no recorded history appears to exist on the origins of pancetta, there are shipping records from as early as the 15th. century that note the purchase of cured meats for long voyages. Most likely, cured meats were developed for just such a purpose. Two well known pancette (plural form) are the Piacentina (D.O.P.) from Emilia-Romagna and pancetta Calabrese (D.O.P.), although very good pancette are made in many other regions as well. The Calabria and Piacentina producers enjoy “Protected Designation of Origin Status” from the European Union, which consists of regulations made to protect local products from competition from unauthentic products made by foreign producers.
Simply, pancetta is dry salted, cured pork belly. There are two basic forms of pancetta that can be found in Italy: pancetta stesa, a flat shaped meat similar to American bacon. The other is pancetta arrotolata, a rolled version. Variations of these two basic forms of pancetta can also be found regionally throughout Italy, each influenced by climate, breed of pig, seasonings and the tradition of local production. Pancetta stesa is made by curing pork belly with salt and additional spices/seasonings. Curing time is between 5-7 days, then an additional 14–21 days, so the product can be hung in a cool / humid environment to dry and develop its unique flavor. Pancetta arrotolata is produced in the same fashion as stesa. Once the pancetta has cured, additional seasonings are added before rolling the meat into a log shape. It is tied and hung up to dry. The texture is softer, more delicate and has more moisture than pancetta stesa.
Piacentina is a regional pancetta and the pigs that are used must be from Emilia-Romagna or Lombardia and the processing can only take place in the province of Piacenza, specifically in Colli Piacentini. The curing process will last from 10-15 days with black pepper and cloves added for a unique flavor. Once cured, it is tightly rolled into a cylinder, tied and hung to dry for up to 3 months. One obscure fact about pancetta piacentina is that its manufacturing can not take place in an altitude any higher than 3,281.5 feet. Stagionata is another pancetta from the Emilia-Romagna region, located northeast of Bologna, situated near a branch of the Po River. The unique combination of salt, garlic, black pepper and rosemary intensify during the 6 month curing process. From the province of Trento (Trentino), which is part of the Alto-Adige region on the Switzerland/Austrian border, one can find smoked pancetta. The curing process takes place in a saline bath that includes garlic, white wine, cinnamon, cloves, juniper and lemon. The curing process lasts about 3 weeks before rolling the meat into a cylinder and smoking it over juniper wood.
What is the Difference Between Pancetta and Prosciutto?
The difference between pancetta and prosciutto is similar to the difference between American bacon and ham, in that they are both preparations of different cuts of pork. For most food lovers to understand the difference between pancetta and prosciutto, it is typically easiest to compare how each type of meat is prepared.
Pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, which comes from the belly of the pig and is cured. Pancetta is the same cut of meat used to make American bacon and the two foods are somewhat similar. The pork belly is typically cured using a combination of salt and curing salts that often contain sodium nitrate. This curing process changes the meat so that it becomes an inhospitable environment for harmful bacteria. After the pork belly has been cured for about a week or so, it is hung in a cool, damp room for several weeks, so that it can dry sufficiently. This gives the pancetta a signature flavor, which is somewhat similar to American bacon. Unlike bacon, however, the pancetta is not smoked after it is cured and dried, which gives it a different flavor from American bacon.
Prosciutto is Italian ham taken from the pork leg, cured and dried for a period of time, typically between several months and up to two years. Prosciutto is prepared in a similar way to the one used for pancetta, though there are noteworthy differences. The cut of pork used to make prosciutto is typically a hip and the curing process takes several weeks longer than pancetta, due to proscuitto being a thicker cut of meat. Once cured, the prosciutto is hung and allowed to dry and age like pancetta, but this process often goes for years.
This means that the major difference between pancetta and prosciutto is that each comes from different portion of a pig and they each require different curing and drying times. While both pancetta and prosciutto are cured and aged, the process is much longer for prosciutto and that produces two pieces of meat with substantially different flavors. The pork belly used to make pancetta is also much fattier than the leg used in prosciutto, which results in different flavor and texture. Another major difference between pancetta and prosciutto is the way in which they must be handled prior to eating. Pancetta needs to be cooked before it can be safely eaten, while prosciutto is frequently eaten uncooked, it can also be an added ingredient to a cooked entree.
Pancetta is an alternative to bacon, in any recipe where the meaty flavor of bacon is desired, without the smokiness. An almost indispensable ingredient in the Italian kitchen, pancetta is used to add flavor to vegetables and pasta. Roast it with potatoes, Brussels sprouts, squash or radicchio. Add it to any pasta dish for extra flavor. Wrap it around scallops or drape it over fish before grilling. Mince it into stuffings, or fry it crisp and sprinkle over soups.
Pancetta’s calories are high and, since it is made from pig meat, also high in cholesterol. ( 2 ounces of pancetta add up to 200 calories.) If you wish to use a substitute, I would suggest turkey bacon. However, there are many Italian recipes that are made with pancetta and the flavor of the dish is based on this ingredient. Again, moderation is the key. I always use the least amount I think a dish needs of an ingredient that requires moderation. Start by cutting the amount in half, as I have done in the recipes below. You can always add more if the taste requires it.
Pancetta Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Dressing
- 1 pound medium asparagus
- 1/4 pound very thinly sliced pancetta
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1. Tightly wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of pancetta and refrigerate until chilled, about 20 minutes.
2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small bowl, stir the orange zest and juice with the mustard and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus over moderate heat, turning often, until they are just tender and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with some of the dressing. Sprinkle with the thyme and serve.
First Course (Primo)
Pasta With Onion and Pancetta
- 1 lb. rigatoni or any other tubular pasta
- 4 oz pancetta, diced
- 2 onions, sliced very thin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Black pepper and salt to taste
In a large, deep skillet, sauté the pancetta in the olive oil, and after a minute or two, add the onion. Cook until golden. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. When the pasta has a minute or two left to cook, drain it, retaining 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Add the drained pasta to the pancetta and onion in the skillet and mix well. Add reserved pasta water and cook for a minute. Place pasta into a serving bowl and add the cheese and a generous amount of black pepper. Salt only after you’ve tasted it, since the salt may not be necessary due to the saltiness of the pancetta.
Second Course (Secondi)
Trout Wrapped with Pancetta
- 4 thin slices of pancetta
- Lemon juice
- 4 small trout
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- Cracked black pepper
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Cut half the lemon into 4 thin slices and reserve the half. Place the fish in a greased baking dish, squeeze the remaining lemon over each side of the trout and brush each with a 1/2 tablespoon of garlic paste. Season the fish with cracked black pepper. Top each fish with thyme and a lemon slice. Wrap the pancetta around the fish holding the slice of lemon and thyme in place. Bake the fish for about 20 minutes, making sure the fish is cooked through. Serve the fish with herbed Italian cannellini beans or green beans.
- Tuscan White Bean Soup + Pancetta (dellacucinapovera.com)
- Candied Pancetta and Dried White Figs (adamkapela.com)
- The Better Bacon Book: Make, Cook, and Eat Your Way to Cured Pork Greatness – Open Air Publishing (itunes.apple.com)
- Pasta all’Amatriciana (dellacucinapovera.com)
- The Cuisine Of Italy – Bologna (jovinacooksitalian.com)